CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Throughout his years with the RCMP, Cpl. Marc Periard has had some great four-legged partners.
The 30-year veteran of the force now welcomes the newest team member – and his first female partner – Jule, a two-year-old German Shepherd.
Since 1997, Periard has been a dog handler and has worked as an officer with the Police Dog Service (PDS) for the RCMP and in support of other police agencies.
Sgt. Leanne Butler, Queens District RCMP, said the work the canine unit provides is “invaluable” as a support service, and said the dogs perform a lot of general duties, including searching for drugs or missing people.
“They back us up for high-risk calls,” she said, adding there are two active dogs on P.E.I. “They are a great asset to the Island.”
All RCMP dogs are bred in Alberta, and officers from across the country attend the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail, Alta., where they are matched with a service dog and undergo extensive training.
“She's small but mighty and displays lots of potential. Her ability to learn and her desire to work is very impressive.”
-Cpl. Marc Periard
While the two dogs share many similar skills, Butler said they each have a specialty.
Jule, for example, was trained in basic obedience, agility and criminal apprehension. She will track criminals, search and locate missing or lost people, search for narcotics, locate physical evidence at or near crime scenes and assist officers on patrol during high-risk take-downs.
The other police dog, Fleck, has been working with his partner Const. Kristian Thomsen for almost two years and is specially trained in bombs and explosives.
In addition to being in perfect physical condition, police dogs must have particular personality traits which make them suitable for police work, which include an even temperament, an instinct for hunting and sound character.
All RCMP dogs are taught to protect their handlers, themselves or to apprehend upon command which is key - so much so that any that display reluctance to do so are not accepted.
In a press release, Periard said Jule has what it takes.
“She's small but mighty and displays lots of potential. Her ability to learn and her desire to work is very impressive,” he said.
“She's fast, alert and very aware of her surroundings, and I'm confident in Jule's abilities as she matures and becomes more familiar with police work in her new role."
Butler said the bond between the officers and their canine partners is “awesome to see” and said they work hard to provide continuous, daily training.
“They spend most of their time together, day and night,” she said. “It’s a full-time commitment.”
Jule is Periard's fifth canine partner. His partner prior to Jule, Dutch, recently retired and is living with a fellow police officer on P.E.I. enjoying the retirement life.