This is TVM news veteran Joe Dimech interviewing Sergeant Tony Gatt from the Malta Police canine section in the 1970s.
The first dogs used by the force in Malta were a group of German Shepherds, which were specifically trained to assist their human handlers in public order and crowd control.
Police dogs, then as now, are taught to remember several verbal cues and hand gestures.
Dogs used in law enforcement are trained to either be ‘single purpose’ or ‘dual purpose’.
Single-purpose dogs are used primarily for backup, personal protection, and locating missing people.
Dual-purpose dogs do everything that single-purpose dogs do, and can also detect either explosives, large wads of cash or illegal drugs.
They are trained to sniff and find. Once they have achieved their quest, they scratch or bark at the object to get the attention of their handler.
Searches of this kind can sometimes be carried out during luggage inspections at Malta International Airport or at the sea terminal in Valletta’s Grand Harbour.
Sniffer dogs are sometimes deployed at police roadblocks and can help the Drugs Squad search home and garages for illegal substances such as cannabis or heroin.