Windhoek — Inspector-General of the Namibian Police Force Sebastian Ndeitunga says the force is dire need of veterinary doctors to care for its canine (K-9) unit.
The police K-9 unit has specifically trained dogs assisting the police and other law-enforcement personnel in patrolling, tracking and sniffing for explosives and drugs.
Signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) yesterday between the Namibian police and the University of Namibia (Unam)'s school of veterinary science, which aims to breed dogs for the canine unit, Ndeitunga said currently the police have no veterinary doctors to care for the animals.
Unam vice-chancellor Professor Kenneth Matengu said the Unam school of veterinary science, established in 2015, will produce its first-ever cohort of graduates in April 2020.
Matengu revealed that the group of 17 students will be the first Namibian-trained veterinarians in the country.
"I have been hunting for the best veterinary doctors to join the police. This is the opportunity for us ... Currently, we don't have someone who has the expertise to look after our canines. Sometimes you find them [dogs] stressed and sometimes they are sick," Ndeitunga said.
However, he said the police have been assisted by local hospitals, adding that the force needs someone "who is on-board 24 hours to look after the animals because they are very important for the police force".
"As you see now for those that have died, I have to move one around, probably Kavango East, West and Ohangwena. It will become tired," he noted.
He emphasised that with the lack of veterinary doctors to look after the canines properly, some end up dying which leaves a huge burden on the few remaining canines to be overworked, as they cover large areas.
But he noted Namibia is not breeding these canines, adding that the government is buying them and they are very expensive while there is no budget for the exercise. One dog can easily cost up to N$70 000.
Therefore, he welcomed the MoU with Unam, saying it will capacitate Namibia to have its own breeding system, besides training the dogs.
The school has been annually audited by the regulatory authority, the Namibian Veterinary Council, since 2016.
Matengu said the final accreditation audit will take place in November.
Additionally, he said that during the international external mock audit that took place in May, the school performed well and Unam looks forward to full accreditation in November/December with the veterinary council.
"As we don't have our own academic training hospital, our students go to the world-renowned veterinary faculty in Pretoria for three months of their final year," he added.
According to him, reports from the university indicate that Namibian students are equivalent, and in some areas better, than their own students.