After a distinguished career with the police dog squad, 9-year-old Swetha breathed her last on Friday. She was cremated with full honours
Bangalore: She spent her limited time on earth labouring to keep the rest of us safe, and ultimately sacrificed her life for her designated cause. Nine-year-old Swetha, a Labrador attached to the dog squad of the Tumkur District Armed Reserve, breathed her last after a heart attack on Friday night. She was cremated with police honours on Saturday afternoon.
Born in 2004, Swetha was purchased by the police department from the Bangalore Kennel Club when she was just a month old. At three months, she began her formal ‘studies’ and after a rigorous 11 months graduated in the art of sniffing out bombs and other explosive substances.
Her natural talent ensured that she was the first to be called up in a security-related emergency. The high point of her career was when she was pressed into service after the Chinnaswamy stadium blasts in April 2010. Her handler T H Nagaraj recalls, “Swetha picked up the trail from the nearby park. As she approached a compound, she ferreted out a plastic cover. We handed over the cover to our seniors, and were later told it contained explosives. Swetha had thus averted a disaster. For her feat, she was ‘presented’ with a cash prize of Rs 100.” Since then, Swetha was a regular at the stadium whenever matches were held.
Not so well-known is the time her alertness and quick action saved several lives in Madhugiri district. Nagaraj recalls that a college student had mysteriously died atop a hillock there. “People were afraid to go trekking as they suspected that gelatine sticks used for illegal quarrying were the cause of the youth’s death. We put Swetha on the job, and she sniffed her way up the hillock to a fuse beneath a boulder. We defused it. It may have seemed a minor incident, but her timely action possibly prevented more casualties,” he said.
Swetha was a clear favourite of the personnel of the Tumkur District Armed Reserve. Unlike some of her peers in the dog squad, she was equable, even-tempered and always responsive to her handlers. “I have never seen such an obedient dog in all my life, though I have handled many canines. She would never miss her training routine between 6.30 am and 9.30 am,” says Nagaraj.
But nine years of rigorous field work and the ravages to her system from sniffing carcinogenic substances were too much for her brave heart. On April 12, she died after a cardiac arrest, and was given a tearful send-off by her masters on Saturday afternoon.
(Hemanth Kashyap |BM)