The temporary working-dog facility to shelter the eight K9 drug-and-bomb-detecting dogs is scheduled for completion today, behind the Customs Office in Malakal.
The facility contains kennels which will shelter the dogs as they are transferred from their previous location in Ngesekes. However, Director Ismael Aguon of the Narcotics Enforcement Agency (NEA) says that the location in Malakal will only house the dogs temporarily, while a larger, permanent kennel facility will be constructed in Airai, close to the Palau International Airport.
Last Friday, twelve officers and interns graduated from the working-dog training course, at the Division of Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) near the location where the permanent facility will be built.
In his first presidential press conference on Wednesday, President Surangel Whipps Jr. expressed his appreciation to the US Government, which funded the working dog program, and the working-dog professionals, who trained the local police force to work alongside their dogs. President Whipps referred to the training as a “marriage” between the handlers and their dogs, adding that “[the new police handlers] are going to be with these dogs for their lives”.
“We have to thank the United States Government for their commitment to our security and safety,” President Whipps said. He went on to say that the team from Bellum K9, LLC, the US-based company which supplied the working-dogs and conducted the working-dog handler course, personally donated $50 thousand for the construction of the temporary kennel facility behind the Customs Office in Malakal, in order to see to it that the dogs are well cared for.
The permanent facility in Airai is funded by the US Department of Defense, an allocation from the $2.6 million in funds for the working dog program. The ten-foot-tall building in Airai will contain the kennels where the dogs are kept as well as an outdoor kennel where the dogs can be relocated while the facility is being cleaned, and will be connected to an obedience course.
The prior location for the shelter, next to the NEA compound in Ngesekes, was ultimately deemed unsuitable to house the working dogs, due to its situation in a residential neighborhood. But Director Aguon has called the new location in Airai “ideal”.
The K9 dogs, along with their handlers, will be used to monitor for drugs and explosives at the airport and seaports as well as inland. Director Aguon has said that they will be used to sniff for dangerous chemicals in incoming packages and containers as well, which is believed to be a main source of drug smuggling, now that commercial flights are suspended.