Buster has a highly developed sense of smell which allows him to detect any illegal drugs people may be trying to bring into Queensland’s correctional centres.
Buster and his PADD dog pals in dog squad units across Queensland work in correctional centres and community custody facilities, helping to keep Queensland’s correctional centres drug free.
Each year, about 400 visitors to Queensland’s correctional centres are found to be in possession of drugs or the smell of it is detected on them, and our PADD dogs play a crucial role in this work.
The dogs are acquired through donations from the public, through established relationships with local animal refuges or are purchased.
On average, only about one in 20 dogs is suitable for work within corrective services.
Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) has close to 70 working dogs.
Breeds currently working in Queensland corrections include German shepherds, German shorthaired pointers, border collies, labradors, rottweilers and kelpies.
QCS has two different types of dogs, General Purpose (GP) and Drug Detection Dogs.
GP dogs are trained to track and search.
Their work and that of their handlers is conducted predominately inside the perimeter fence of a correctional centre.
They are QCS’s more assertive canines, searching for drugs, assisting with the daily supervision of prisoners and can be integral team members in tracking situations - not just for corrections but within local communities.
Training of the GP dogs involves the “bond method”, which forms the all-important bond of trust and obedience between handler and dog.
The bond method is used instead of food-for-reward, which carries the risk of the animal abandoning the handler in a difficult situation should there be no reward on offer.
Most of QCS’s GP dogs are German shepherds.
The second category of QCS dogs are the Drug Detection Dogs.
There are two types of Drug Detection Dogs, the Active Alert Drug Detection (AADD) and the Passive Alert Drug Detection (PADD) dogs.
AADD dogs, or “Actives” as they are commonly referred to, are trained to actively retrieve the drug scent by either scratching or biting.
Their work is like that of the GP dogs - predominately behind the perimeter fence.
PADD dogs and their handlers are frequently working with people.
Although they assist with searches of prison mail and visitor locker areas, their main duty is on centre visits days, when they mingle with prisoners’ friends, family and associates as they pass through the gatehouse to visit. Should a PADD dog pick up the scent of contraband material, it will sit at the person’s feet, alerting the handler to a contraband find.
Labradors, German short-haired pointers, border collies, and kelpies are the most common PADD dog breeds currently working in Queensland corrections, due to their friendly natures and extremely high play and retrieve drives.
Training for these two types of dogs is play-based. They are taught to retrieve and find their scented toy and are rewarded with affection and praise.