NEW DELHI: It’s not quite a dog’s life. The sniffer dogs on duty in Parliament are living life king size if one goes through the list of winter care items being procured by the General Procurement Branch of the Lok Sabha for them.
A crew of eight sniffer dogs belonging to the various security units under the Ministry of Home Affairs guard Parliament. To cater to their winter needs, the General Procurement Branch has floated a tender. The list includes blankets, towel hands, neck collars (both medium and large) grooming brushes (both large and small), rubber bones, leather bags and even grooming gloves.
“The sniffer dogs have to be maintained with much care. This is more so when they are protecting the country’s Parliament and VVIPs of the country,’’ the
official said while talking about the special treatment meted out to these VIP canines. According to him, the care routine of breeder dogs have to be same everywhere. “But when it comes to the sniffer dogs in Parliament, they do receive some extra care,” said the official.
He said that there have been complaints regarding the poor treatment meted out to sniffer dogs who are under various state governments.
The sniffer team in Parliament comprises of German Shepherds, Dobermans and Labradors. Outsourced from various wings of the home ministry, they are trained at various dog training centres in the country.
“Parliament does not have any sniffer dogs of its own. We get it from the various units of MHA, including the Central Industrial Security Force, and sometimes also from the paramilitary forces. But we provide for all their requirements,’’ said an official with the Lok Sabha secretariat.
As in the case of every other sniffer dogs, the VIP canines in Parliament also are used for vehicle search, clearing of areas before VIP visits and of course detecting explosives or other stuff. According to the security official, they have much better reliability when compared to electronic gadgets. “If electronic gadgets have 40 per cent reliability, sniffer dogs have 80 per cent reliability in detecting any explosives,’’ said the officer.
These VIP canines take several rounds of the Parliament House complex every day, especially when the session is on. Sometimes they are used for clearing the area before a VIP visit, checking the vehicles and of course for hunting out explosives or drugs, if any. The sniffer dogs entered Parliament after the Parliament attack in 2001. Since then, they have been put to critical use many a time.
“One such occasion was when there was a bomb scare in the Parliament while the Winter Session was on in 2005. Immediately the sniffer dogs were put into action and the galleries were emptied and the entire complex was thoroughly searched by the bomb disposal squad and sniffer dogs. The House resumed functioning only after the bomb disposal unit gave an all clear sign,” remembered the official.
The Border Security Force has the largest contingent of sniffer dogs followed by the Punjab police. The MHA had recently directed all the state governments to raise its own battalion of sniffer dogs in view of the increasing instances of terror activities in the country.
Outside India too, the sniffer dogs have a proud place in most parliament, given the terror scenario across the world. It is said that Israel has the largest number of sniffer dogs. Pakistan started stationing sniffer dogs after a bomb threat in its Parliament in 2008.