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A (police)man's best friend . . . Timaru constable Stu Cann and dog Saba both graduated from the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre last week. PHOTO: NZ POLICE

by Greta Yeoman

Timaru police have a new, furry, four-legged force member.

Constable Stu Cann graduated from the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre last Thursday, alongside his German shepherd police dog, Saba.

The Timaru-based constable said Saba would be the second police dog in service in Timaru.

Const Cann, who has worked in the town for the past decade, said he had always aimed to be a dog handler.

He had fostered three police puppies in the past as preparation for working as a handler, and had been training Saba for several months.

Four-legged force . . . Timaru Constable Stu Cann and Saba (far right) were one of several officers graduating as dog handlers last Thursday. They were joined by fellow graduates (from left) Constable Grant Burrows and Haven, of Auckland, Sergeant Warren Sangster and Abel, of Gisborne, Constable Tim Roy and Targa, of Dunedin and Auckland-based Senior Constable Tony Feasey and Primo during the ceremony at the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre at Trentham. PHOTO: NZ POLICE

“She ticked all the boxes,” he said of her graduation.

He was grateful for the early work of fellow constable Cam McBride, who fostered Saba as a puppy.

“[He did] a really good job in [Saba’s] base work.”

Police dogs were used for a variety of reasons while on the job, including tracking offenders and as a tactical option for restraining an offender instead of using a taser, he said.

Police opted to use German shepherds due to their strong sense of smell and being the “most well-rounded” dog.

Const Cann was looking forward to working as a dog handler because it was an “exciting” job and he loved dogs.

“[It is] just something I’ve always wanted to do.

“[I get] to train a best friend.”