Queensland was home to one of the earliest known uses of police dogs in Australia, when they were first introduced for an experimental trial in 1912. The dogs – a pair of Doberman Pinchers affectionately known as ‘Fritz’ and ‘Olga’ – remained on active service until 1917, when the trial was discontinued for not meeting expectations.
The idea of police dogs in Queensland would not be raised again until 1972, when the Commissioner re-introduced their use as a measure against rising incidents of school vandalism. In December of that year, two officers, Charlie Degnan and David Laird, participated in a guard dog training course at the Royal Australian Air Force Base (RAAF) base at Toowoomba. Their two dogs – ‘Lobo’ and ‘Rolf’ - were German Shepherds donated by the RAAF. The dogs were given the official title of Police Dog (PD) and began patrolling school grounds around Brisbane.
After the training and deployment of the first two dogs proved successful, it was decided that the program should be expanded and the Queensland Police Service (QPS) Dog Squad was established. The new handlers were sent to the New Zealand Police College at Trentham to participate in a police dog training course. The training course went for three months and was designed specifically for police work, not just guard duty. At the conclusion of the training the New Zealand Police donated two German Shepherds, Lex and Sam to the QPS.
When the handlers arrived back in Australia the officer in charge, Senior Constable Ces Austen developed a training course based on the New Zealand system. This course, whilst it has been modified and changed over the years, is still undertaken by handlers and dogs today.
The QPS Dog Squad has grown considerably in strength since then, expanding throughout Queensland and 1989 saw the introduction of the Drug Detection Dog, as well as first dog in Australia able to detect accelerants used to start fires.
Even today, the QPS Dog Squad continues to look to the future for further advancement, including the creation of the cadaver detection dog team in 2006 - the first of its kind in Australia.