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New dog squad facility opens doors

Photo left to right: Chief Constable Jim Chu, Mrs. Darlene Poole, future PSD Scout, Inspector Tony Zanatta, Inspector Loris Zuccato

The Vancouver Police Department opened its newest facility today, complete with honoured guests, a few speeches and a demonstration from some of Vancouver’s finest.

The brand new Dog Squad compound is a fully self-contained, stand-alone and state-of-the-art facility. It offers showers and locker rooms for staff, as well as a classroom with computer workstations for training, a kitchen and a weight training area. 

There are 20 kennels for police dogs with heated floors and they are well ventilated with inside / outside access for fresh air. There is a dog grooming area and specially ventilated storage that help equipment to dry quickly.

The outside training area is equipped with bleachers and a PA system for dog demonstrations, one of which took place today. Constable Sandra Glendinning with PSD Hondo, Constable Geoff Goodall with PSD Wyatt, Constable Reg Forster with PSD Ace and Constable Richard Wong with PSD Knight displayed their skills for a group of delighted school children from Florence Nightingale Elementary, but it was two adorable puppies, and future PSDs, named Scout and Hunter that stole the show.

Much of the thanks for the facility being built goes to Jack and Darlene Poole. Aware of the cramped quarters and dilapidated building housing the Dog Squad previously, Mrs. Poole was determined to get them a new facility.

“What a privilege it has been to contribute to this outstanding facility,” says Mrs. Poole. Her late husband, Jack, was very fond of dogs. “He would say ‘the boys’ deserve this.”

Inspector Tony Zanatta of the Dog Squad thanked Mrs. Poole for her generosity and explained what it has meant to the squad. He spoke of the Squad’s tradition of a ceremony called “The Four Corners,” which takes place when a police dog dies and the members drive in a convoy to the four corners of Vancouver, respecting their partner’s commitment and sacrifice to “cover the city.”

“Mrs. Poole, the memorial you have made possible will be our fifth corner,” says Zanatta. “On behalf of every dog handler, past and present, I offer our heartfelt thanks.  You will always be part of this Squad.”

Remarks by Chief Constable Jim Chu

Good morning and thank you all for coming this morning.

I would like to offer a special thanks to all those who have worked so hard and contributed so generously to this new facility.

Much of what you see here today was made possible by a generous donation of $200,000 by Mrs. Darlene Poole.

I also want to thank Vancouver City Council, and, from the City of Vancouver, Ken Bayne, General Manager of Business Planning and Garrick Bradshaw, the Director of Facilities.

Thank you all so much for all you have done for the VPD and our Dog Squad. Today marks another milestone in the proud history of the Vancouver Police Dog Squad.

It is a history that stretches back to 1957, when this canine squad became the first of its kind among Canadian police departments. Over the years the squad has distinguished itself time after time.

When I say that, I want to be clear, that I’m not just referring to the dog handlers.

Our police dogs have served with bravery and distinction. They have to their credit thousands of arrests.  Their efforts have often saved the public and our police officers from injury or worse.

When our police officers complete their careers and retire, they will have served with many human partners.   Many former dog handlers will say that their police dog partner was their favourite.

Dog handlers alone truly understand the unique bond that is formed between themselves and their dog. It is one that relies on unconditional trust, respect and affection.

The police dog is not just their partner, it is also a member of their family. When police dogs retire, they spend the rest of the lives living with the officer and their family.

It is easy to understand then when a police dog dies in the line of duty how devastating that is for all of us.

Over the years, eight VPD police dogs have lost their lives while on duty. Their deaths are always tragic, always in the pursuit of the bad guy, and always in the service of the community and the VPD.

The names and their histories are not forgotten, any more than we would ever forget the names of any of our fallen comrades.

They are Police Service Dogs Valiant, Justin, Pax, Mecca, Conan, Bobby, Sabre and Nitro.

Theirs is a legacy of proud service that continues to this day.

This new state of the art facility will make it easier for our police dogs and their handlers to train and work in a safe and clean environment.

In the history of the Department, this is the best facility the Dog Squad has ever had.

I’m sure you would all agree that for all they do and have done, they deserve the best.

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