COCHABAMBA, Bolivia – A cemetery commemorates dogs that carried out anti-drug operations and is part of a Bolivian police training center in the central province of Cochabamba.
At the entrance are the names of those that did an outstanding job: Chicho, Kika, Rubia, Kimba, Tina, Dolly, Nero and Milton, among others.
Inscribed above the names are the words “Here reposes man’s best friend.”
In a statement to EFE, the director of the Training Center for Drug-Detecting Dogs (CACDD), Col. Yurgen Corrales, said these animals deserve to have “a privileged resting place” and be buried with “all the honors” for their career with the Bolivian police.
“We can’t shunt aside these faithful companions that have been by our side for so long,” he said.
According to Corrales, from the time the handler and his dog graduate from the course, a relationship has been established that lasts the animal’s whole life, usually 12-14 years.
The preparation of a drug-detecting canine begins at two months and its active life in this work can last up to nine years, after which it is retired.
One of the active dogs is Daphne, a 4-year-old Labrador recently decorated for the alerts it sounded at anti-drug checkpoints throughout the year.
Its handler, Sgt. Yosby Poma, told EFE that Daphne’s biggest achievement was finding 28 kilos (62 lbs.) of cocaine “in impregnated clothing.”
Sgt. Poma and Daphne have been mostly assigned to Bolivia’s two main international airports, located in the eastern city of Santa Cruz and in El Alto, near La Paz.
The chief instructor, Capt. Juan Cossio, told EFE that most important in a dog’s training is developing an association between the smell of drugs and the reward it gets from its trainer through games.
In a demonstration to the media, CACDD instructors used semiautomatic boxes with the odor of drugs inside and which activated a reward, usually a ball.
Around a hundred of these canine cops are now working at the main checkpoints in Bolivia, while another 73 are in training.