Iraq seeing influx of dogs, but not as pets
Iraq, a country not very welcoming to dogs, will be welcoming more than 1,000 of them in the next five years — all trained to sniff bombs and assigned to the Iraqi police force.
“Iraqis are not fully comfortable with dogs yet,” says Brig. Gen. Mohammad Mesheb Hajea, who is in charge of the Interior Ministry’s fledgling K-9 unit. “But the people are coming to love them, because they realize what they can do to keep us safe.”
Twenty-five dogs and their human handlers graduated earlier this month from Baghdad Police College’s newly created K-9 course, USA Today reports. And 120 more bomb-sniffing German shepherds, Malinois and Labradors are scheduled to be incorporated into Iraq’s police force by the end of this year.
As in many Muslim countries, Iraqis generally see dogs as unclean animals who shouldn’t be allowed in the home.
But authorities says Iraqis are recognizing the contribution canines can make.
“There is no better investment to countering the threats of bombs and explosives,” said Col. Randy Twitchell, chief U.S. military adviser to the Baghdad Police College. “The Iraqi security forces are recognizing how useful a role that dogs can play in securing the country.”
The U.S. military is paying for the dogs — $12,000 each.
The American advice to bulk up the K-9 units was initially met with resistance.
The vast majority of bomb-sniffing dogs now being used at Iraq’s airports are owned by foreign contractors. Those contractors will be phased out and replaced by Iraqi government-owned dogs and their police handlers, Hajea said.
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 29th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baghdad police college, belgian malinois, bomb-detecting, bomb-sniffing, bombs, contractors, dogs, german shepherds, iraq, iraq police force, K-9, labradors, military, muslim, news, pets, security, u.s., unclean, war