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This adorable Metro Vancouver police lab was just crowned the 'Top Dog' in Canada. Here's why

"It's a pretty big deal."

A Metro Vancouver pooch claimed the top prize at a national police dog competition in Alberta. 

The Canadian Police Canine Association hosts the annual dog trials to bring law enforcement officers together from across the country to compete for the coveted title of Canada's “Top Dog."

This year, the National Police Dog Championships were held from Sept. 7 to 10 in Camrose. Two teams represented the Metro Vancouver Transit Police (MVTP): Const. Dugald Shillito with K9 Scout and Const. Daniel Campagne with K9 Strider. 

Const. Shillito and Scout won the Overall Nation Detection Dog Champion title, which is a first for the Transit Police.

There are several categories of competition throughout the four-day event, including obedience, agility, evidence search, tracking, building searches, compound searches and criminal apprehension. 

MVTP Sgt. Gord McGuinness is in charge of the department's K9 Unit and tells Vancouver Is Awesome in a phone interview that there's a specific component for detection dogs. Whether they do narcotic or explosive detection, these pooches will compete against each other performing tasks in a myriad of different venues, vehicles, buses, buildings, and other places that they encounter in their daily work.

This year, there were 21 detection dogs enrolled in the detection-specific competition, representing the RCMP, municipal police departments, and the Canadian Border Services (CBSA).

"It's a pretty big deal," McGuinness adds, noting the national event brings teams together from across Canada to compete under "one umbrella."

Explosive detection dogs in Metro Vancouver

The MVTP K9 Unit is the country's largest single-purpose explosive canine unit, focusing exclusively on explosive and firearm detection. However, the bomb sniffers competed against other detection dogs, such as ones used by CBSA officers to locate narcotics at the border. 

"At the end of the day, odours are odours," McGuinness says. "Whether you're looking for a narcotic or an explosive...it comes down to the handler's ability to read the dog, the dog's intensity on his search, and just being able to work as one with your dog to fulfill that common purpose of locating either narcotics or explosive." 

The champions, Shillito and four-year-old Scout, who is a black labrador retriever, have been working together with the Transit Police since 2019. 

Campagne and Strider, the other pair that competed, finished in the top 10. Strider is hugely popular around the Lower Mainland because he looks like a little doggy detective with his red moustache

With 220 million scent receptors in their nose, dogs have a keen sense of smell that allows them to quickly determine the presence or absence of odours given off by explosive materials.

The MVTP K9 Unit is also the only one in Canada with dogs that do vapour-scent deployment. 

"And what that is, is picking up explosives on moving targets," McGuinness explains.

"So this would be an example where you've got someone in a mass pedestrian environment walking in and a suicide vest and the dogs, just searching multiple people and picking up that odour on a person that's moving and tracking that person until they can be identified by police."

Meet all of the K9 members with the Transit Police in this adorable photo gallery

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