Hammertime: Importance of preservation and protection

This week’s Hammertime looks at RCMP service dogs and wildlife protection

Mike Rainone


We just love our one day ‘road trips’ throughout this great province of Alberta and beyond, especially in the summer.

While out and about we are always looking for those unique and colourful attractions that not only give us joy to see, but also offer a vital and upbeat family education about our precious environment and the wonderful services that are available 24-7 for all of us.

We went to see those gritty dogs

Last week on a glorious sunny and breezy day we paid a visit to the RCMP Police Dog Training Centre located south of Innisfail, which since 1937 has been the national year-round training centre for all Royal Canadian Mounted Police handlers and their dogs. During their decades of rigorous work and training within the police service and other partner agencies, the officers and staff have earned a worldwide reputation for training thousands of dogs with outstanding tracking skills as well as maintaining an ongoing breeding program for producing top quality working teams of German shepherd dogs. The majority of the service dogs are trained by RCMP officer trainees from Canada and beyond for general duty during a vigorous four month program in preparation for a long working career in postings throughout the nation. Their future duty profiles in countless locations and situations during service in the force will then include tracking, retrieval, obedience, agility, and criminal apprehension, as well as searching for explosives or narcotics, weapons, persons, buildings, articles of various sizes, and other required related assignments. Just a few of the amazing and vital accomplishments of the RCMP dog teams over the years have included: In one year alone they found 69 lost Canadians from young children to seniors; The Narcotic Detection specialty dog teams have seized over $200 million worth of illegal drugs off the streets over the past 10 years; have saved millions of dollars of operational and investigational costs by apprehending suspects within hours of the crime; and are trained to always be ready and eager to serve and respond to vital emergencies whenever the call goes in.

Every Wednesday afternoon from May until September the always busy centre invites the public for a free 2 p.m. showing and information session, where the magnificent dogs and their highly skilled and very patient handlers get to ‘strut their stuff’ for all to see. As well as viewing an exciting display of skills by the handler and their dogs the visitors will be treated to the delightful entrance of the newest crop of pups, which never leave their trainers alone, and all have been named by Canadian youngsters in an annual yearly contest. After the show guests can get up and close and personal across the fence from the dogs and their handlers, who will answer all your questions as well as offer great photo ops with souvenirs of the occasion available to help support this extremely vital protection service for all Canadians. It is advised to arrive a little early for the performance as there is limited seating, and more information is available by contacting their website at www.rcmp.ca/pdstc.

A place for injured and orphaned wildlife

While on a trip to B.C. we had the opportunity to drop in to a Wildlife Recovery and Discovery Centre, which is dedicated to the caring of injured and orphaned wildlife, as well as to educating the public on wildlife and environmental issues, and even includes an intensive care building. As you wander through the large grounds, pens, and enclosures visitors are awed by a host of bears, owls, eagles, osprey, vultures, and other species in the various stages of recovering from injuries or have lost their parents. These young orphaned cubs can only be seen on a television monitor, as they are kept in an enclosed area away from the public until they are ready to be released back into the wild, while several bears who have recovered from injuries will have to stay in their large and natural compound for life, as they have become to accustomed to the human race as it is today.

At these wildlife retreats you can get quite close and personal with the pens of these magnificent bears and birds of prey, and even get a photo-op, but there is absolutely no feeding for their protection, and no fingers through the cage for the safety of the visitors. Most of the admission charges go towards the operation of the facility, staff, and feed, while donations are always graciously accepted in order to keep these vital services going on a year-round basis.

So how can we continue to enjoy and still maintain all the wonderful amenities of our precious natural environment and all the species that share it with us. Respect it all: clean up our campground and picnic spots and recreation areas before we leave, obey the Provincial laws set down for the vital protection and preservation of our parks and their inhabitants, give them the space and freedom they need to survive, and extend our appreciation to the thousands of Professional Officers and staff whose job it is to protect and preserve the peace and tranquility for each and every family to cherish all year round. In the meantime just keep right on enjoying this fabulous summer and have a great week, all of you.

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