Police pooch moves north to fight Nunavut crime

German shepherd can attack wrongdoers – or charm school kids



Bart is a walking, sniffing, furry contradiction.

During playtime, the purebred German shepherd will run circles around anyone wearing sealskin and whine for a chew.

But when it’s time to work, this seven-year-old veteran of the RCMP will track a suspect and attack on command, deploying teeth, claws and a high-volume bark.

And as cute as Bart is when he begs to chew on sealskin mitts, it’s the more serious side of him Nunavut RCMP are looking forward to seeing in action.

Nunavut RCMP expect Bart’s addition to the Northern police forces will help them gather hidden bits of evidence, hunt down stashes of drugs, track suspects who flee the scene, and reduce the danger of stand-offs with armed criminals everywhere in the territory.

In the past six years working with Bart, Cpl. Joel Leblanc said danger and crime scene investigations have been the mainstay of the dog’s life.

“He’s saved my bacon a few times,” Leblanc said while introducing Bart to local media and fellow officers in mid-January. “[Down South], we’d get 500 dangerous calls a year … 50 to 60 would be violent offenders.

“He’s in good working condition.”

Leblanc recalled a case where an armed suspect was hiding inside a house on the north end of Vancouver Island. When he and Bart entered the building with other officers, Bart flung himself at a closed door. The suspect came crashing out, and shot one officer in his bullet-proof vest, before being shot himself by another officer.

Leblanc said without Bart’s intuition, the team of police would have been left vulnerable to a surprise attack.

Bart’s arrival doesn’t mark the first time Nunavut RCMP have had a police dog at their disposal. In recent years, police used a dog trained in tracking narcotics, but not in other areas.

Const. Chris Coles said Bart’s additional talents, such as being able to find gun shells in the snow, plus the creation of a permanent position for a police dog in Nunavut, in the event Bart leaves, bode well for crime-fighting in the North.

Besides tracking evidence and suspects on the lam, Bart will be used to help front-line officers in break-and-enter cases, Coles said.

Coles noted that the police pooch has abilities that officers don’t.

“He bites better than me,” Coles said with a laugh.

Insp. Harvey Seddon, who oversees operations for RCMP in Nunavut, said Bart will also be able to boost community relations through school presentations.

“Dogs are fun to take into the schools [for presentations],” Seddon said. “It gives kids a whole other view of police.”

At press time, Bart and Cpl. Leblanc had yet to make their investigative debut, but Leblanc hoped to have the equipment, such as a special cage in the police wagon, Bart needs to start full-time in the coming weeks.

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