Five sniffer dog handlers and a narcotics management staffer from Taiwan’s customs office completed a 13-week intensive training program in Brisbane, Australia, on Thursday, marking the first cooperative project of the kind between the two countries.
Tung Yi-ming, head of the economic division at the Taiwanese representative office in Australia, thanked the Australian government for its generosity in helping Taiwan establish a sniffer dog network almost free of charge.
The five professionally trained sniffer dog handlers will serve as seed instructors after their return to help cultivate a new generation of qualified handlers, Tung said.
Five Australian-bred and trained Labrador sniffer dogs will accompany the five handlers to Taiwan to work as their partners in combating narcotics trafficking, Tung said.
He added that the Australian Customs Service’s trainers would also come to Taiwan to help the Labradors adapt to Taiwan’s living environment and working conditions.
Australia has also promised to offer counseling in nurturing and training sniffer dogs, Tung said.
When Taiwan began preparations for establishing a sniffer dog service system, “we approached the United States, Japan and Australia for technological assistance as we lacked experience in the field, and Australia agreed to lend support in 2006,” Tung said.
In designing the training courses for Taiwanese handlers, Tung said that Australian authorities dispatched a number of specialists to Taiwan to inspect airport and sea port facilities as well as customs clearance procedures and international parcels inspection processes for reference.
Tung said the government planned to form 40 sniffer dog teams by 2012 to be posted at stations under the jurisdiction of the customs offices of Taipei, Keelung, Taichung and Kaohsiung.
“Eventually, a total of 90 sniffer dog teams will be established to effectively prevent drug trafficking,” he said.