Blue Line

Labrador gets first police dog unit

January 5, 2016  By Danette Dooley

717 words – MR

Submitted photo of Cpl. Jason Muzzerall and his dog Charlie

Labrador gets first police dog unit

by Danette Dooley


The RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador has established a K-9 unit for Labrador and welcomed Cpl. Jason Muzzerall and his four-legged partner Charlie to the Big Land in December.

Muzzerall is from Northern New Brunswick. He has been with the RCMP for over a decade and has policed in Northern Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.

He has been a dog handler for the past four years and looked forward to coming to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador to set up the force’s new dog section.

“The move to the East Coast gets me a bit closer to home but the big thing for me is that there has never been a dog section here in Labrador before so I have the opportunity to start from the ground up,” Muzzerall said.

Charlie is Muzzerall’s fifth police dog. He’s had the five-year-old pure bred German shepherd since he was a puppy.

“Charlie will be six in March. I raised him since he was a seven-week-old little ball of fur. I raised him previous to training. We went through training together. We graduated training together… took our first posting to Thompson, Manitoba and we’ve been working together ever since.”

According to the RCMP web site, the force only uses purebred German Shepherds for general duty teams. However, other breeds may be used for specialty detection teams.

The versatility, strength and courage of German Shepherds make them eminently suitable for Canadian police work. Their heavy coats allow them to work under extreme climatic conditions.

The force’s web site also notes that the presence of a German Shepherd seems to have an inhibitive psychological effect on potential wrongdoers. Trained to apprehend, they will invariably make a successful arrest, the web site notes, despite the fact they are trained only to hold, never to be savage.

In addition to being in perfect physical condition, they must have particular personality traits which make them suitable for police work: even temperament, hunting instinct and sound character are essential.

Charlie is trained in many areas of police work including drug searching, tracking, criminal apprehension and evidence searching.

{Newfoundland and Labrador}

Newfoundland and Labrador is policed by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) and the RCMP. The RCMP covers all island portions of the province except the Northeast Avalon and Corner Brook.

In Labrador the RNC polices Labrador West (Labrador City and Wabush) and Churchill Falls and the RCMP polices all other communities.

While based in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Muzzerall and Charlie will be available to RCMP detachments throughout Labrador.

“I’m based out of Goose Bay because it’s one of the bigger areas that the RCMP polices in Labrador. The plane is here so I’m portable if I have to go to any of the other areas.”

While living and working in Labrador might take getting used to for many police officers, Muzzerall’s past northern/isolated postings will make the adjustment a little easier.

One of the biggest challenges he’s faced thus far has been getting Charlie his dog food. He’s grateful that the owner of the local pet store has agreed to have the food brought in.

“That makes things a little easier for me,” Muzzerall said.

Another challenge has been building an outside enclosure for his dog, which isn’t easy to do in minus-26 degree weather, he said.

“Charlie has his own kennel and a dog house and I’m setting something up temporarily to get us through the winter until we can get plans and a proper kennel in place next spring.”

{Involving the community}

Muzzerall is looking to involve the community to meet Charlie’s needs. He’s optimistic some high school students or members of a local service club will be interested in helping build an enclosure.

Involving the community in a similar partnership worked well during his posting in Manitoba, he said.
Muzzerall said becoming a dog handler is not only a career but also a lifestyle.

“We live with our dogs, we travel with our dogs… they are there on your days’ off, they are there on your vacation. There’s the partnership and there’s the work relationship but it goes deeper than that. Any dog handler… they get that bond. It goes beyond your 9-5 schedule.”

Print this page


Stories continue below