Media Releases

Customs K-9s graduate

Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 14:47

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner today congratulated Customs’ three new detector dog teams ahead of their graduation today at the Police Dog Training Centre in Trentham.

“Detector dog teams play a vital role in Customs' work helping stop illegal drugs from being smuggled into the country and causing harm in our communities,” Ms Wagner says.

“The dogs are one of Customs’ multiple layers of defence, which include intelligence, technology, and information-sharing.

“The three new Labradors, Dee, Ember, and Virgo have been working as fully operational drug detectors in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch screening passengers, goods, and craft over the busy summer season.

“These new teams have been a welcome addition at the peak time, especially given the record number of travellers crossing the border this summer.

“The dogs and their handlers go through an extensive three month training programme before undergoing Police testing to be certified as fully operational drug detector teams.

“The detector dog teams form one part of the Customs toolkit, along with cutting-edge technology such as SmartGate, hand-held drug analysers and the on-site drug lab at Auckland Airport, as well as highly professional Customs Officers.

“Customs serves New Zealand well by keeping the border safe, while smoothing the way for legitimate travellers. Last year 96.4 per cent of passengers were processed in under 45 minutes – better than world gold standard of 90 per cent – while Customs intercepted a record level of methamphetamine, helping to keep the street price of the drug at the same stable and high level it has been for seven years.

“The combined efforts of law enforcement agencies has also seen the average age of P users increase and use rates remain below one percent.

“Today’s graduation recognises not only the achievement of the detector dog teams but also the hard work and dedication of Customs’ specialist trainers.”

On Tuesday, two new Customs detector dogs arrived in New Zealand from Australia’s detector dog breeding centre in Melbourne. They will begin training in Auckland at the end of the month with their new handlers and are expected to be operational by the end of May.

“I look forward to meeting the two new teams over the coming months,” Ms Wagner says.