The state police today has a 245-strong canine force spread across six police commissionerates, 31 police districts and three special units. Bengaluru boasts of a bigger squad with 64 dogs, including German Shepherds, labradors and a Belgian Malinois. It is also home to a training park for canines.
The canine squad has a 54-year-long history on a par with the police force of the state. With the formation of the Mysore State in 1956, policing activities and units were strengthened across the state and the Bengaluru commissionerate started operations on July 4, 1963. The Karnataka Police Act, 1963 came into force from April 2, 1965 and there was demand for a canine squad. In 1968, JB Samual, a retired official from the Madras police, started a dog squad in Karnataka.
“Dogs always had a strong relationship with disciplinary departments and induction of animals in armies gave rise to the branch of veterinary sciences. The canine unit has been the department’s pride in Karnataka as many Kannada movies in the 70s and 80s with police themes often glorified the squad. There have been many notorious cases in the state over the years which have been detected solely with the help of canines,” senior historian and writer Suresh Moona, who had penned a series titled Karnataka Police Ithihasa, told TOI.
Rs 2.7 crore spent every yr on upkeep of squad
The first squad in 1968 had only six dogs. The Karnataka government spends Rs 2.7 crore for the annual maintenance of the unit now, as per data given by the home department.
The Bengaluru unit spends Rs 71 lakh a year with around Rs 1.1 lakh per dog. Mysuru unit (10 dogs), Hubballi-Dharwad (six dogs) and Mangaluru (four dogs) spend Rs 11.8 lakh, Rs 7.1 lakh and Rs 4.3 lakh, respectively. Interestingly, the highest spenders on individual dogs are not Bengaluru or Mysuru, but KGF (Rs 1.4 lakh) and Bagalkot (Rs 1.2 lakh) units, which have only four and five dogs, respectively.
Special units, including Karnataka State Industrial Security Force (KSISF), City Armed Reserve (CAR) and Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) have their canine units. CAR-north is home to 10 canines, all Belgian Malinois, whose upkeep costs the exchequer Rs 11.2 lakh per annum. KSISF has 12 dogs whose upkeep costs Rs 13.2 lakh and ANF looks after eight dogs, by spending Rs 8.9 lakh per year. The recent addition to the state’s canine wing is a Belgian Malinois puppy donated to Mysuru city police in 2021 by a civilian. Christened Yodha, the dog is being trained by the Mysuru canine unit.