When it comes to policing in outback Australia, two legs are good but four is better.
Police Dog Alex and Police Dog Rowdy have successfully completed their most recent formal assessments, which are carried out twice a year.
They work for Mount Isa Police Dog Squad, living on site with their respective handlers Sergeant Officer in Charge Mick Silman, and Senior Constable Josh Bull.
Sergeant Silman has been a dog handler for the past seven years, and although he is responsible for every aspect of Alex’s care, he says it’s nothing like owning a pet.
“We have to be very careful how we treat them, because they are working dogs,” Sergeant Silman said.
PD Alex and PD Rowdy work eight hour shifts, usually at night, and are kenneled during the day to build motivation for the job.
“The idea behind their rest days is to have them kenneled as much as possible.
“You can imagine if the dog’s in the backyard relaxing and being lazy, he’s got two options when he has to go to work; hunt for the bad guy, or be lazy,” Sergeant Silman said.
The dogs are well cared for though and fed the very best meat, dog biscuits, chicken and bones. They are exercised, stimulated, and groomed every day, receiving top line medical and dental care, and live in specially designed housing at the handler’s residence and in vehicles.
From eight weeks until 14-16 months of age, dogs undergo basic training in obedience, tracking, and learning how and why to bite.
On completing this training in Brisbane each dog is sworn in to the service, given a police ID number, and from that point regarded at the rank of a constable officer.
During a working day PDs Alex and Rowdy participate in ongoing training as well as calls for service in serious or indictable offences, as well as tracking missing persons.
Offences requiring canine assistance include armed robberies, break and enters with violence, serious domestic violence incidents, even siege.
From Mount Isa the squad supports the wider district, up to Mornington Island, down to Birdsville, and from to Winton and Camooweal.