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Driven duo named top dog team

Bay of Plenty Constable Andrew Smart and police dog Talon. Photo: NZ Police.

A shared drive to work hard and catch offenders has seen Bay of Plenty Constable Andrew Smart and police dog Talon pick up the Erridge Cup – a national award for the top performing dog team in their first year of operation.

The pair – familiar faces to those who followed their journey on TV show Dog Squad Puppy School – have made a stellar transition from training to an operational dog team, notching up more than 30 catches and helping keep both the roads and the community safe.

It’s come with plenty of hard work along the way.

Andrew admits that since getting Talon as a 13-month-old foster pup, the pair have only spent four nights apart.

And days off don’t mean much to the duo either, with the training and general care continuing whether it’s a workday or not.

“He’s a huge part of our life.

The dedication and commitment to training dogs really does become more of a lifestyle.”

Andrew says becoming operational felt like “starting at the bottom of the hill again” – testing to see how the skills they learnt in training could be transferred into the operating environment.

Luckily, as the award attests, the pair have become a formidable team, especially if they’re on someone’s trail.

“This job is all about problem solving and it’s really proactive policing which I enjoy.”

It was when he was in the army on an exercise that Andrew saw police dogs and handlers in action and decided it was something he wanted to do, but Andrew admits while it was “high on the wish list” he wasn’t sure it was something he’d ever achieve.

“It’s been fantastic watching the progress of Talon and seeing all the milestones.”

Particularly memorable was a two-hour long track through central Mount Maunganui and watching the sheer skill and drive of Talon to keep going, eventually tracking down three people wanted for burglaries.

“The success when it all comes together is fantastic.”

Bay of Plenty Constable Andrew Smart and police dog Talon. Photo: NZ Police.

Dog Section Supervisor, Sergeant Scott Robinson, says while Andrew has been a star when it comes to catches, it’s his wider contribution to keeping the community and roads safe that makes him stand out.

“What sets him apart is not just the consistency of the catches, but the approach he takes to keeping our roads safe and helping to train the next generation of dogs and handlers through the foster dog programme.”

Bay of Plenty District Commander, Superintendent Andy McGregor, described the win as an outstanding achievement for the hardworking pair.

“Not only is Andrew clearly a great operator with the dog, but what stands out is his passion, demeanour and professionalism.

The calibre of the work he’s doing really makes a difference to our communities.”

Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator Police Dogs, describes the pair as worthy winners of the sought-after award.

“Andrew’s passion and contribution is evident, resulting in the pair being involved in dealing with a wide range of offenders.

He’s had a fantastic first year, not just in apprehending offenders but demonstrating sound decision making, leadership and community work.”

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Go Delta

Posted on 31-10-2021 17:40 | By

To Talon and your chauffeur (with all respect) sincerest congratulations. Seems even more special having watched Talon growing up on TV. If I had my life to live again, Delta all the way. I have SO much time and respect for you guys. Thank you, man and dog alike, for your service.