South Peace News
A new police dog handler based with the High Prairie RCMP detachment is on the job.
Const. Scott MacLeod and his German shepherd dog Jago arrived Aug. 25, making his home in Faust.
“We are very fortunate to have the police dog service unit back in the High Prairie region because it will greatly enhance both public and police safety,” High Prairie S/Sgt. Warren Wright says.
A dog service unit was posted in High Prairie until 2013. Since that time, the detachment struggled to secure a dog handler despite support from the Town of High Prairie and Big Lakes County.
A dog handler started Jan. 30, 2018 and transferred out five weeks later.
Drug unit officers say the dog team is a major asset to enhance services.
“Having a police dog unit this close to High Prairie dramatically decreases the response time to assist our members with high risk situations, searches and apprehensions,” says High Prairie RCMP Cpl. Brent Lawson of the drug unit.
MacLeod worked with the RCMP Integrated Police Dog Service in the Lower Mainland of B.C., and lived in Chilliwack.
He has been with the RCMP for 15 years and with the dog service for eight years. He welcomes the opportunity to work in northern Alberta.
“I wanted to experience provincial dog work and the opportunities that come with that,” says McLeod, who is employed under the RCMP K Division [Alberta] and not a member of High Prairie RCMP.
“Jago is trained to track human scent, search for narcotics, and evidence in general, and criminal apprehension.”
The local dog unit is also accessible for calls in the wider region east to Slave Lake and Desmarais-Wabasca, west to McLennan, Falher and Grimshaw and north to Peace River, Cadotte Lake and Red Earth Creek.
MacLeod says the dog has a record of effective service.
“Jago has apprehended suspects with firearms and other weapons and violent offences,” MacLeod says.
“He has also located lost and missing persons in the mountains surrounding the Lower Mainland.”
As one of 24 RCMP dog teams in Alberta, MacLeod and Jago aid local officers and detachments in the wider region.
‘If they have an investigation, we can assist them,” MacLeod says.
“We also provide relief for dog teams in Grande Prairie and High Level and we can call on them to assist us,” MacLeod says.
The dog is used to apprehend a person in a safe manner without risk to anyone, including the public, he says.
“When an RCMP drug unit executes a search warrant, the dog can search for drugs in areas difficult to detect by officers,” MacLeod says.
“The big thing about a dog is that he can use his natural powerful ability to smell.”
Officers value the dog services.
“They like the presence of a dog in a situation that presents potential risk,” MacLeod says.
He notes the job brings lots of opportunities.
“I love working with dogs and I’m a dog lover,” MacLeod says.
“I love the challenge the job brings, whether it’s a bad guy running away from a scene, a lost child in the woods, or searching for drugs or all kinds of evidence.”
MacLeod says he eventually plans to show the dog to schools and community groups when safe to do so.
He started his RCMP career in Prince Edward Island on general duty from 2005-12.