The old saying that dogs are man’s best friend couldn’t be more true than when applied to the Thai Police Dog (K9) unit.
“Since it was established in 1954, the unit has played a major part in solving and preventing many important crimes throughout the country,” explains Police Lieutenant Colonel Chatchai Settheepanlarn, who is currently in charge of training. But despite its distinguished history, the unit has not received much recognition.
“Not too many people know about us. I would like to make the K9 unit more known to the general public. Everyone should know how the dogs are beneficial to the country,” said Pol Lt Col Chatchai, who requested a transfer to the post in 2006. This was somewhat unusual, as not too many policemen actually want to work with dogs.
“I’ve always loved animals, especially dogs. I wanted to improve and develop the police K9 unit because it has great significance to the security of the country. I like this job and enjoy the challenges,” added the officer, whose dream from childhood was to become a police officer.
“I think that the police uniform is very sacred when worn. I feel that I am the guardian of the public peace, taking away anxieties and helping provide happiness for the people. I am very proud.”
“Many people don’t know what the internationally recognised term K9 actually means. It is a play on the word ‘canine’, meaning dog.
“Our unit is under the 191 Special Operations Division of the Royal Thai Police (RTP) Metropolitan Bureau.”
The immense affection between the K9 officers and their four-legged “best friends” is apparent during the training exercises. One can’t help but feel sympathy for these men whose reputations are tarnished almost daily by stories of a minority of rogue policemen reported in the press.
Chatchai loves every one of his dogs, but the most favoured is a two-year-old German shepherd named Nuclear. Maybe the surname Bomb should be added as well, judging from the behaviour of this large and quite beautiful animal.
“He is an attack dog,” Chatchai said. “The bottom line is that someone with bad intentions wouldn’t like to have any business with him.” It is quite amazing that such a dangerous looking animal would be so obedient to its master.
Pol Lt Col Chatchai talked of his goals for the K9 unit. “I have a plan to bring the police dog unit up to a higher standard and make it more effective within the RTP, but I am still missing a number of necessary ingredients, like new training equipment to replace what is old and broken.
“We need new pick-up trucks and containers to transport the dogs,” he continued. “The vehicles we have, due to their long service, allow water to enter when it rains.”
In addition, special protective clothing that covers the whole body, manufactured abroad, is needed to train the dogs properly.
Time, patience and devotion
“Since being assigned to the K9 unit, I've initiated two projects: Friends of Police K9s, and Stray Dogs Against Criminals,” said Pol Lt Col Chatchai. “The first project allows members of the public to bring their dogs here for training similar to that which our dogs receive. This is free of charge. After training, some of the dogs and their also well-trained owners may become K9 volunteers - “Silver Canines” – to help local police in searching for drugs and other jobs as requested.