NEW DELHI: While ITBP personnel valiantly guard the Indo-China border and counter Left-wing extremism in Chhattisgarh, the service dogs of the force are quietly playing force-multipliers by detecting explosives and ambushes and keeping the troopers safe.
On Friday, one such ITBP service K9 – Snowy, a Malinois aged 8 years that was reared and trained by the force – was awarded for detecting a powerful pressure cooker IED in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh and saving the lives of more than two dozen ITBP personnel. Also, ITBP mare ‘Champion’ which put up a scintillating show during the National Equestrian Championships and leads the force as a representative of all ponies and mules that provide logistic support to ITBP in freezing, high-altitude areas along the Indo-China border, was awarded the ‘Best Horse’ medal.
Both the awards were presented by ITBP DG Sanjay Arora at the Annual DG’s Parade held in Greater Noida on Friday.
ITBP has been awarding ‘best dog’ and ‘best horse’ medals since 2016.
Snowy is a patrol explosive detection dog (PEDD) that is trained to not only detect explosives but also give early warning of a likely ambush almost 1-km ‘ downwind. On September 27, 2021, Snowy’s training saved the lives of over 25 ITBP personnel. She was leading an area domination patrol along with her handler Veerappa Hadimani, as a lone Naxal on a small hillock lay in wait, ready to trigger an IED that had been set up along the path. A huge Naxal party too lay in ambush some distance away.
“Hero Snowy stopped upon sensing the IED. Her handler walking 20 feet behind lifted his right arm, signalling to the ITBP commander to halt and have the troops take tactical positions. As Snowy refused to move, it was clear that she had detected the danger of ambush and the IED. Naxals, upon seeing this, retreated. Later Snowy sanitized the area and found the pressure cooker IEDs in 15 seconds,” Dr Sudhakar Natarajan, DIG (Vet), ITBP, told TOI.
Natarajan said, “Snowy represents all the brave ITBP service K9s who are really good at their job, which is why we have not lost a single personnel in an ambush.”
“Snowy is a naughty dog but we have not tried to curb this natural instinct as it helps him in his patrol duties,” he added.
ITBP dogs have a service life of 8 years, after which they are retired and kept comfortably at the National Training Centre for Dogs, Panchkula. The retired dogs also double up as therapy dogs for special children with an autistic spectrum disorder. ITBP horses, meanwhile, are retired after 16 years and left to pastures. ITBP provides its retired dogs and horses with a 70% ration as a pension.