Col (Dr) P K Chug (R) is Consulting Director of Police K9 Cell established under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

Recently, he has been awarded the coveted Fellow of the National Academy of Veterinary Science (FNAVS) by NAVS (India)

Besides, he has been conferred with the Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation on three different occasions; Various Trophies and Medals of Excellence by Corps Commanders, Army Commanders and Director-General RVS during his 25 years of chequered service. In this interview, he shares many interesting things on working K9s of which most people are not aware.   

Being a qualified Veterinary Microbiologist, what interested you/ motivated you to become a canine trainer?

Early life of Col. PK Chug as Veterinary Microbiologist

It is staggeringly and dishearteningly true that many people don’t know what they are passionate about or what they want to pursue in life. I have put in my best effort in whatever I do, considering the impact of the surrounding environment, circumstances and opportunities that come my way.

I was sure of my calling right from my post-graduation days while studying Microbiology in the Rajasthan Agriculture University, Bikaner. It was natural for me to join the Indian Army as a Veterinary Officer in the elite Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) because of my love for the ‘olive greens’.

I decided to join the army despite offers from the state government as a veterinary surgeon; an assistant professor in my alma mater or pursuing research in a top US University. My love for joining the armed forces got consolidated as a cadet and Senior Under Officer (SUO) of my R&V squadron NCC during the student life when I was actively pursuing horse riding.

Senior Under Office PK Chug during NCC days

I contributed as Veterinary Microbiologist and Disease Investigation Officer at Central Military Veterinary Laboratory (CMVL), Meerut Cantt, to isolate numerous animal viruses and strains not only to control disease outbreaks but to be contributed to indigenous vaccine production of dogs. The tenure with CMVL was unique, I undertook few research & development projects, isolating many animal viruses and their molecular characterization. ‘Equine Influenza’ was one such big viral outbreak among Army equines which could be controlled by my swift actions and Army’s effective control strategy. As a first ‘Quality Manager’, I was successfully able to achieve in making the CMVL as India’s 1st and only animal disease diagnostic laboratory accredited by NABL as per ISO 17025: 2005. I subsequently achieved the unique distinction of a qualified assessor of NABL for the assessment of other biological laboratories.

A chance to pursue the ‘Army Dog Trainer Course’ in 2000 was a turning point in my life.

At a very young age, I served in Kashmir Valley (J&K) and I was immediately bestowed with the distinguished command of an ‘Army Dog Unit’. I soon discovered that my passion was ‘Military Working Dogs’ (MWD).

Since then, there has been no looking back.  I enjoyed every bit of working with hundreds of Army Dogs. I continued to command specialized ‘Dog Units’ on six different occasions including thrice with Army (all in Valley J&K), and thrice with the ‘Special Forces’ of the nation that includes two terms as NSG Black Cats Commando. I developed numerous innovative and inexpensive dog training aids; introduced the concept of scenario-based training; and a periodic assessment of the technical proficiency of dog teams to augment their operational performance.

Would you like to share some unique event during your long experience of working with Army Dogs?

Experimenting to develop innovative mode of ‘Heliborne Slithering of Army Dogs’

I have innumerable success stories. One such incident involved an Explosive Detection Dog (EDD) named Divya, which indicated an IED buried deep in the ground in a green kitchen garden.

Another was when Tracker dog Dustin was utilized to track down dreaded terrorists who fled from a crime scene. Even when deployed  24 hours after the incident, in inclement weather at snowbound terrain, the dog followed their odour track over the next 03 days, leading the Force personnel from one village to the other, finally leading to eliminate all the five terrorists in North Kashmir Valley (J&K).

Commissioner, Delhi Police honouring with a momento on completion of 1st Police K9 Workshop in March 2020

One of the most memorable endeavours was developing ‘Heliborne Slithering of Army Dogs’ in  2002 while serving with Rashtriya Rifles (Victor Force) in South Kashmir Valley (J&K). Amid this challenge, I could successfully develop the concept of taking Army Dogs as piggy-back to the Handler while slithering from a helicopter in remote areas in the mountainous terrain of ‘Pir Panjal’ Himalayan range. The harness was locally designed and developed by me in the field environment. We were made, for the first time, a part of the ‘airborne QRTs’ (quick reaction teams) during the J&K assembly elections in 2002.

Soon, it was accepted as an approved military doctrine based on the training note initiated by me.

The transformation of NSG’s K9 Unit under my command was another highly satisfying term. We prepared the K9 teams with standards that surpassed international levels. The ‘Assault K9 Teams’ were trained to be effective off-leash controls, imparting them a sense of directional movements on wireless communication with their handlers. Utilizing natural agility and aggressive instincts of the Belgian Shepherd Malinois dogs, the capacity of assault K9s of NSG was enhanced to jump off significant heights from a building or a moving vehicle in potential counter-terror operational scenarios.  It strengthened the Special Intervention Teams of NSG. They applied ‘K9 Commandos as Tactical Weapon in Fight against Terrorism’ successfully

Col. PK Chug on successful assessment and training of specialized dog teams at Dog Training Centre of Telangana Police at IITA Moinabad in Dec 2020

The Government of India bestowed enormous faith in you by entrusting you with the position of Consulting Director of the recently established ‘Police K9 Cell’ with the Ministry of Home Affairs. How does it feel? Tell us more about this organization and your role in its functioning.

Establishing ‘Police K9 Cell’ under the Police Modernization Division is a unique initiative of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India to realize that this subject needs focus and consistent attention to improve the prevailing standards of Police Service K9s (PSKs).  It would help the Government of India to realize the full potential of these dogs in a wide range of security-related tasks with Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), Central/State Police and Law Enforcement agencies. Personally, I feel extremely privileged that I was considered worthy of this onerous responsibility in the lead role to the newly established ‘Police K9 Cell’ with a mandate of ‘Mainstreaming and Augmentation of PSKs in the Country‘. In as vast a country as ours involving security organizations with union and state governments, the task at hand is not easy. It is an equally inspiring and satisfying mission that has also energized all the stakeholders due to the swift progress made within a short period of its coming into existence with an aim to make PSKs a formidable ‘Force Multiplier’.  

To achieve the objectives mentioned above, after preliminary deliberations with all stakeholders, a comprehensive roadmap and an effective action plan was drawn to transform the subject of PSKs quickly. In the first phase, CAPFs and other central police and law enforcement agencies are supported in all its dimensions to modernize the practices matching international norms. Such methods are also shared with state police organizations which are equally supported in this endeavour.

A model on Working K9 Behaviour Assessment Test (K9 BAT) has been designed and developed to determine the behaviour and temperament of young adult dogs (green dogs) to find their suitability for the specialized police task was issued during Feb 2021 for compliance by all the CAPFs. Only Green Dogs’ (young dogs ready to enter into specialized training) qualifying in the K9 BAT shall enter the specialized phase of PSK training or be sold to other organizations ensuring the quality of PSKs.

In a path-breaking step, a ‘National Register for Working Dogs’ (NRWD) has been established under the aegis of Police K9 Cell of the Ministry of Home Affairs to exclusively maintain records of working dogs engaged for police duties. Under the new concept, all potential PSKs would be screened through Working K9 Behaviour Assessment Test (K9 BAT) and based on the scores of Working K9 BAT, the dogs qualifying the benchmark scores for ‘Working Dogs’ would be recorded in the NRWD and issued an appropriate certificate. Only registered dogs with NRWD would be procured by Forces raising the prospects, confidence and assurance among all stakeholders regarding suitability in meeting specific requirements for reliable police duties.

Further, the role of dogs is ever increasing in diverse fields the world over. We’re advising and supporting Forces in catching up with the emerging trends world over and use the untapped potential of dogs for the benefit of society.

Publication of the ‘National Police K-9 Journal’ is another step taken by the Government of India in furtherance of establishing the Police K-9 Cell. What are your thoughts on this unique initiative of the Govt? What do you think is the purpose behind releasing this journal?

Sh. Amit Shah, Hon’ble Union Home Minister formally releasing the inaugural issue of the ‘National Police K9 Journal’

The inaugural issue of the bi-annual ‘National Police K9 Journal’ was published and formally released by the Hon’ble Home Minister Sh Amit Shah, on 02 Jan 2021. It is the first such publication in the country on the subject of PSKs i.e. Police Dogs.

The National Police K9 Journal publication is an important step taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs to create a culture and ecosystem in the country to train and learn on sustainably augmenting this vital resource. The journal has eleven sections in Hindi and English. It is a collective endeavour of all the CAPFs and other central/state police and law enforcement agencies that the authentic ideas, field experiences, case studies, research & development activities from Force personnel are published in the journal for mutual learning for the benefit of organizations. The question-answer section of the journal uniquely provides an opportunity for the Dog Handlers and Trainers to seek a solution to their queries and problem areas. The contributions from K9 experts from civil society and foreign experts have been sought.  As editor of this journal, I am making a sincere endeavour to publish the journal at par with international journals.

You are also instrumental in organizing the yearly conference of all armed forces dog squads. Tell us more about the conference and its attendees.

Col PK Chug presenting on Working K9 Behaviour Assessment Test (K9 BAT) during the 2nd National Police K9 Seminar at Delhi on 26 Feb 2021

During my tenure with NSG, we organized the 1st National Police K9 Seminar in the year 2017 which was participated by over 400 delegates representing security organizations and few renowned K9 breeders and trainers from civil society. Few eminent experts from foreign countries also attended, which also included few demonstrations by French dog teams. At that time, we recommended making this event an annual feature to strengthen the learning process and share our experiences with each other.

After establishing the specialized Police K9 Cell, the National Police K9 Seminar has been made an annual event and will be organized by one of the CAPFs in rotation. After a gap of four years, MHA’s 2nd ‘National Police K9 Seminar’ was successfully held for 02 days on 25-26 Feb 2021. It is part of the MHA’s efforts to develop culture and ecosystem in the country for mutual learning on PSKs. This year’s seminar was organized by SSB at the BPR&D auditorium in New Delhi with the theme ‘Role of Dual Purpose Police K9s in Augmenting National Security‘. Little over 200 delegates representing various CAPFs, Defense Forces, Central and State Police and Law Enforcement agencies participated in the seminar. Various domain experts subsequently presented in several technical sessions over the two days of the seminar. Recommendations of the Seminar were compiled by me for further action by different stakeholders, including the Ministry of Home Affairs.

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