6 April 2018
While more than 6600 athletes compete at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, one of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) explosive-detection dogs is working behind the scenes to help secure the international event.
Trained to sniff out explosives, Chuck, a Border Collie cross from No. 2 Field Squadron, 2nd Engineer Regiment, has been working with explosive-detection dogs from the Australian Army’s 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment and Queensland Police to search the athletes’ village and the venues for the 275 events in Australia’s Gold Coast.
Acting Corporal Thomas Hynes, Chuck’s handler, said the threat for the Games was very low and their presence was a safety measure.
“Nevertheless, it’s great to support the security for the Games to ensure the athletes and the public are safe,” Acting Corporal Hynes said.
“We flew to Brisbane in late February as part of an exchange programme with the Australian Defence Force. The unit we were assigned to was supporting the Commonwealth Games and we have been fortunate to be able to work with them. Arriving when we did meant we could acclimatise to the heat and it has been full-on since.”
Apart from helping search the venues, Acting Corporal Hynes and Chuck also do shifts at the vehicle checkpoint to examine cars, trucks and buses before they enter.
Chuck was two when he completed his training to become an explosive detection dog in 2012. The Commonwealth Games mark the first time the now seven-year-old dog has been deployed overseas.
“The biggest challenge for both of us has been the heat. Although we’ve both adjusted now, I always make sure he has plenty of water to drink,” Acting Corporal Hynes said.
“It has been great working with the Australian Defence Force and the Queensland Police and learning different ways of working and employing explosive detection dogs.”
On their days off, Acting Corporal Hynes takes Chuck for a run in the park or on the beach.
“He loves to swim, so I bring him to the beach when we have time.”
Lieutenant Colonel Terry McDonald, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Engineer Regiment, said the NZDF currently had five explosive detection dogs, with more expected to complete training over the next two years.
The NZDF’s explosive detection dogs formed part of an emerging expeditionary capability that were often requested to support other New Zealand government agencies, including the New Zealand Police, Aviation Security Service and Department of Corrections, Lieutenant Colonel McDonald said. Two were deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 to support New Zealand and coalition forces.
“It’s great to see our team working and engaging actively with a key strategic partner overseas and delivering an operational effect. This is another great example of a small team delivering a big effect,” he said of the NZDF support to the Commonwealth Games.
“The 2nd Engineer Regiment often trains alongside the Royal Australian Engineers and they have a history of working well together.”