This page is a tribute to the amazing canine's that have dedicated their lives to serving with Paul in law enforcement and as a valued family member throughout the years

POLICE SERVICE DOG IRON

 

Police Service Dog Iron In 1992 was imported from Germany to work in law enforcement in Patrol Work. I was a young Toronto Police Service Officer with ten years experience at this time. I was working in the 3 District Youth Gang Unit in an undercover capacity. It was at this time that I decided for family reasons. That a change in my career with more structured hours would allow me to be home more with my wife and two young children.

I applied to the Police Dog Service Unit and the Emergency Task Force with the Toronto Police Service. I passed the physical for both these specialized units and qualified for the final interviews.

Police Dog Services answered the bell first and placed me on their candidacy list. I was accepted in October of 1993.

I was then introduced to a beautiful Sable coated German Shepherd from Germany named Iron. He was around 1 year of age and weighed in at 65 pounds.

We immediately bonded and became working partners. We excelled in the basic four month Patrol Canine Training under the direction of Head Trainer Richard Fackrell. Following graduation we hit the streets and enjoyed assisting the Toronto Police Officers with their calls for service. Iron really enjoyed catching bad guys and tracking them. He was a natural with his impeccable blood lines from Europe.

 

In the fall of 1994 while we were still on course Iron and I entered into the United States Police Canine Regional Tracking Trials. Iron was so amazing we finished 1st overall with a score of 179.5 out of a possible 180 points. There were over 20 canine teams from services across Ontario and the northern United States.

As we grew in confidence in police K9 operational calls and in training I decided to compete in the United States Police Canine Patrol Regional Trials in Gastonia North Carolina United States. Police Patrol Canine Iron showed himself well and we both certified at the regional level in the United States. Iron placed 11th overall out of 52 K9 team field. Our score was 639.973 out of a possible score of 700.

In the fall of 1995 I decided to push Iron to the highest level of tracking and we competed at the U.S.P.C.A. Police Canine #2X tracking trials. This is the elite level of police tracking certification.Again, Police Canine Iron did not disappoint. We certified without any difficulty.

As my first patrol dog Iron and I had a wonderful canine career together with many great memories. However one of his memorable arrests were this.

I remember a radio call to a high school in North York. Our undercover units were observing a stolen car that was abandoned at the high school. The officers felt that the suspects were in school and would shortly return. As a result they notified canine to attend and we responded. I arrived and stood by in the area to see if the suspects would return. At the end of the school day four suspects entered in the stolen car and the decision to take down the car was made. Iron and I deployed and engaged the suspects to surrender. The four suspects opened the car doors and attempted to run. At this time I challenged the suspects verbally and they refused to comply. Iron was then deployed to apprehend. The four suspects saw Iron coming and decided running was futile. They quickly returned to the car and attempted to close the doors of the car. One of the suspect legs was exposed and Iron apprehended it and ripped it clean off! Yes clean off and ran back to me with it proud as a peacock. I almost fainted as nobody told me police dogs would dismember suspect limbs. All the school witnesses, principal, teachers and students began screaming. Hence I screamed in horror too! Iron was so proud to have a bone, sorry a limb. It turned out is was a prosthetic limb and nobody was hurt. The suspects were subsequently arrested and in charged accordingly. Needless to say this memory will forever be in my heart and I was so proud of Iron Dog.

Iron and I patrolled the streets of Toronto together for three years until due to his health I had to make the decision to retire him. This was not an easy decision in the year of 1997 as I knew Iron only wanted to work and trying to find a home a suitable home for him would not be easy. With a heavy heart I knew I could not keep him because I had a small family and I had a small house. I wanted the best for him and having two police dogs and Iron in retirement would not be fair to him at all.

Fortunately, one of my best friends Gary Burns accepted to foster him at his home in Markdale Ontario. Gary had over 100 acres of land to roam in and that was amazing for Iron. I agreed and it was an amazing decision for everyone. Iron loved running with Gary at work there and he enjoyed retirement until his passing in 2004. Gary laid Iron to rest on his property near Markdale Ontario.

Thank you Iron for allowing me to learn to be a great dog handler. Your work drives made it easy and I only had to hold on to the leash to look great.  You were the police dog that started the Toronto Police Dog Service legend of Police Dogs named Iron. Thank you for your service.

NARCOTIC DETECTION DOG BANDIT 

 

As a result of my work and dedication at the Toronto Police Dog Service Unit I

with Patrol Dog Iron, I was acknowledged and selected to handle the next Narcotic

Dog. At this time there was one original Narcotic Dog team.

As a result I was selected to attend the Canada Customs Border Agency College in

Riguad Quebec on a Detector Dog Service Seminar in 1996. At this time I met

Narcotic Handlers from across the world. I was also educated on the breed of

English Springer Spaniels. This breed was the premiere breed in working this

detection profile in the United Kingdom.

Upon my return I worked with my Head Trainer Rick Fackrell to find a suitable canine

candidate. I was blessed to find Bandit an English Springer Spaniel that was

purchased by the Peel Regional Police Service for their narcotic canine program.

However their budget for this program was cancelled I then jumped on this

opportunity. Bandit was born in 1995 with an English Springer Spaniel Breeder

in Pennsylvania.

In May of 1996 Bandit and I commenced our two month Narcotic/Firearm Detection Dog Course under the direction of Head Trainer Police Constable Rick Fackrell. Bandit to say the least excelled with the work and we certified together in early August.

I was excited to be one of the few dual dog handler teams in the Toronto Police Dog Service Unit. I patrolled the streets of Toronto proudly with Police Service Dog Iron and Narcotic Detection Dog Bandit.

I was attempted to excel in the training standards of my working canines. In 1998 I had the opportunity to train and attend the United States Police Canine National Detection Dog Trials in Evansville, Indiana, U.S.A.

N.D.D. Bandit certified at the National level with his National Narcotic Dog Certification. I was very proud of our accomplishment during these trials. We returned to Toronto to continue our pursuit in the detection of contraband.

Bandits ability to detect contraband quickly became known on the streets of Toronto and the calls for service continued to grow.

There were many calls to proudly reflect on however here is one of his stories. In 1997 Bandit was called by an undercover unit in the downtown sector. At this time information was had that there were three large Marijuana grow operations in the apartment building. However the units were not known. The officers were hoping that Bandit would alert on the doors in the hallway to provide more grounds for a search warrant and identify which apartment units contained the marijuana operations.

Bandit searched many floors of the building and did identify on three doors. I then notified the Detective in charge of the investigations and then reported off duty. I was nervous knowing many officers were going to the effort of writing and executing the warrants on these apartment units.

I returned to work the next day and I was certainly interested to hear about this investigation. Later that day I did hear from the Detective and Bandits indication did reveal three large grow operations. Seized were a large quantity of laundered money and marijuana.

Bandit was responsible for the detection and seizure of millions of dollars of contraband and drug taint money.

Due to his health, Bandit had to be retired at the age of 12 following his illustrious career. He did enjoy his retirement with my family for two years until his passing.  Thank you Bitty for your loyal service and companionship. I was always impressed by your passion to work.

POLICE SERVICE DOG BAYLIS 

 

As one has said “ One door closes another door opens”,

Well as much as I was upset to lose a great canine partner, another canine partner came into

my life. Little did I know how much he would change it!

 

I was asked by canine management and the family of Todd Baylis to handle a Police Dog in the

memory of Todd Baylis. I met Todd in his early years of Policing in 12 Division. He was on my

platoon and showed great qualities as an aspiring officer. I enjoyed working calls with him and he

asked me to do a ride along with my current Police Dog Iron.

 

Unfortunately a few weeks later on June 17th 1994 I worked an evening shift that I would never

forget for the rest of my life. P.C. Todd Baylis was executed and P.C. Mike Leone was shot in the

back with serious injuries. A call that will haunt me forever as there was nothing I could do to help.

The days and months following this incident was hard for many in the field of policing.

Questions about their careers and their safety in the role of policing the streets of Toronto.

As in many traumatic incidents time has a way of healing. I knew to be strong and continue as a

canine officer I had to consume myself in the calls for service and stay busy with my canine

partners Iron and Bandit. In 1997 I was forced to retire Iron to injury.

 

As a result in the summer of 1997 I was introduced to a Czechoslovakian Black and Tan German

Shepherd which had a name of Tango. This name could not have been more suited. Little did I

know that my experiences as a canine handler would be put to the test. As this canine had a

personality that was known in the industry as “Handler Aggressive “ .

 

As we commenced basic training in the Police Service Patrol Dog course the propensity of Baylis to challenge my dominance was evident. It was routine in training and at home for this canine to challenge me and have an incident of control. I knew I had to win each session or this would be end of us both as a team.

The mental and physical strength of this canine amazed me as Baylis continued to challenge me for many months even after basic training. The commitment to training hard paid off as we bonded and excelled into an experience operational Patrol Dog Team. We responded to many calls for service and effectively made many canine arrests. Many of these arrests were a result of Baylis ability to track. He had the natural ability to put his nose to the ground on any surface and track under the most distracted situations.

 

Baylis was so good he competed in a United States Police Canine Association Tracking Trial in Halton Region in 1998 and placed 1st place overall with a perfect score of 180/180. I always tried to get the best out of my canine partners and we challenged ourselves in 1999 and competed in the U.S.P.C.A. Regional Police Dog Tracking #2 Trials which is the highest level of tracking. He easily completed this task and should his amazing ability in this profile.

We then focused on the streets of Toronto and challenged ourselves to be a proficient patrol team supporting the field officers of the Toronto Police Service.

 

Baylis was not a social Police Dog he did not care to socialize with other people or canines. He hated everyone equally and tolerated me. I knew he loved working with me but he had his funny way of showing it.

I have many funny stories with Baylis I could share. However one funny memory was this. I was the first canine officer to start 3 day canine ride alongs in the canine unit. I felt this was an impactful way of educating field officers of our work. It was popular with many of the officers. One young officer attended for day 1 or 3. This officer was Police Constable Steve Moore of 11 Division. He arrived to the canine unit with enthusiasm on midnight shift. Unfortunately I had to educate him with the personality of Baylis. No petting, talking or staring at Police Service Dog Baylis.

At that time on midnight shifts the first stop was a coffee from Tim Hortons. I offered to go in the store and buy the coffee for Steve. I had the kennel gate open for Baylis and I told Steve he would be fine. However I told Steve do not look or talk to Baylis and you will be fine.

 

As soon as I left the patrol car Baylis stood up in his kennel and poked his head out of the kennel next to Steve in the passenger seat. Steve did what he was told and did not say anything and did not look at Baylis. Baylis without notice then looked down in the centre console area and quickly grabbed Steves Yukon hat and retrieved back into the kennel. Steve could only hear him growling and tearing his hat to pieces. Steve did the correct thing not to try to retrieve the hat from Baylis.

 

When I returned to the car Steve had a blank stare and was somewhat in shock. He told me what

had happened and we had a good laugh over our coffee. Needless to say we had to get him a

new issue Yukon hat.

 

Baylis was quickly gaining a solid reputation on the streets of Toronto as a competent and tough

Police Dog. Nobody and I mean nobody could come near me and nobody dared to. I will say this

that Baylis made me feel the safest out of all the four Police Patrol dogs I had ever handled. He also

had the longest canines I have ever seen. The upper canines were measured close to two inches.

This would cause his punctures to be deep on his arrests and I am sure the pain threshold was high

upon his apprehensions. I really did not have much compassion for the criminals as they WERE ALL BAD!

 

This was one of the benefits of being an operational canine handler in law enforcement.

Upon all my canine arrests I saw the fear of god in the eyes of the criminals.

They all received street justice which brought some satisfaction and joy to the victims of

all the senseless crimes. It also did not anger me anymore in policing when I saw the

criminals being found not guilty or receiving ridiculous sentences for their crimes.

They all received justice on the streets with my patrol dogs!

 

Baylis being a tough dog was very possessive of his toys. He was so bad that he finally swallowed

whole a kong.  Needless to say this was not good and he had to be rushed in for emergency surgery.

The Police Service supported the surgery and following this the rehabilitation commenced.

Baylis did come back to active duty but I could see from his physical and behavioural

indicators he was not the same.

 

He finally did succumb to his surgery and passed away during the summer of 1999. He was a true warrior and fearless protector. As much as he was a difficult canine to handle I loved dearly for his strength and dedication to his work. He may have not had a long police dog tenure however he made the best of it and created many memories with his arrests with many fellow police officers, citizens of the community and of-course the criminals that he placed the fear of god into.

 

Baylis God Bless you for your service and you will always be in my memories for your loyal work and dedicated protection to me as a canine partner.

POLICE SERVICE DOG IRON ll 

It is always a difficult time when you lose a canine partner as it is uncertain if you will continue to serve as a police canine handler with the service. However it was determined quickly that I would remain in the canine unit and receive a new canine for training. I was extremely delighted and this would certainly fill the void for the loss of Baylis.

At this time I was allowed to name my dog in memory of my fallen original canine partner Iron. The reason I did this as I learned this in the United States that this was common to name a new canine partner in the memory of a past fallen canine member. So for me it was a no brainer as I always wanted to have my Iron remembered.

In August of 1999 Iron ll arrived from Czechoslovakia. We met each other and quickly bonded together in pack and in training. It was soon after that I introduced him to my family and boot camp continued.

 

In December of 1999 we graduated from the Toronto Police Patrol Dog Course and began our

work on the street of Toronto.  Streets arrests quickly accumulated as Iron ll adapted to

operational work quite easily.

 

One of his first criminal arrests a suspect wanted for break and enter was found lying on the

ground underneath a large fir tree. The suspect made the mistake to kick Iron ll in the head.

Iron ll then quickly apprehended the suspect by the leg and held on until the suspect

submitted to the arrest. Needless to say the suspect screamed like a coward until I outed my

canine partner. Like a true coward as soon as the back up officers arrived and handcuffed him

he then began his barrage of verbal accusations towards the officer.

I walked away with Iron ll with a smile on my face and was very proud of my canine partner.

 

I then in the summer of 2000 competed Iron ll in the United States Police Canine Association

Regional Police Dog Trials in Cobourg, Ontario. We worked the midnight shift and then

following our shift travelled to Cobourg Ontario to compete in the Trials.

Even though we were both tired we were able to place third overall out of 25 teams. At that

time I knew I had a special canine partner.  So with that said and done I knew we had a window

of opportunity to compete at the National level.

Knowing that I was now qualified to compete in the United States Police Canine

Association National event in Charlotte County Florida. It was an easy decision to continue

training and prepare for the certification.

In October of2000 I attended the Nationals. There were over 175 canine teams present and it

was the best canine teams in North America. I was excited to be there with Iron ll and to

represent Toronto Canada. We were competing with the big Dogs!

 

After a gruelling week of competition I was very pleased to certify at the National level. Iron ll

was so impressive we were able to place in the top half of the field. I was so proud of my

canine partner.

I was now the first Toronto Police Dual Dog Handler to have 2 National Certified U.S.P.C.A. canine partners. I worked so hard with both these canines to achieve this goal and I was very proud of this accomplishment.

 

We returned to the streets of Toronto and continued to work the streets of Toronto operationally with both my canine partners Iron ll and Bandit.

During a hot and gun violent summer in Toronto. I had the occasion to be working a midnight shift with Iron ll and Bandit. I was requested to attend a gun shot call in the Eglinton and Jane area of Toronto. An armed suspect had shot a victim and fled into a nearby ravine. The Emergency Task Force attended with me and a canine search was conducted. Iron ll did locate the armed suspect and disarmed the suspect by apprehending him by the gun arm and forcing him to drop the gun. The suspect was arrested and disarmed and the semi automatic loaded gun was seized. It was later determined that this violent gang related suspect was the shooter in a past homicide in the Peel Region. IT WAS ALSO A REMINDER TO ME THAT MY POLICE CANINE PARTNERS MAY HAVE ALSO SAVED MY LIFE IN THE PAST AND ALSO ON THIS PARTICULAR CALL.

 

In 2006 the difficult day to retire Iron ll came. Fortunately I was in a position to retire him at home. My wife and I were able to care for him until his untimely passing.

 

Iron ll I thank you for your service. We achieved many goals and arrested many bad guys on the streets of Toronto. You were a great protector and I was so proud of you during your career. God bless you and you will never be forgotten.

POLICE SERVICE DOG IRON lll 

Again with the loss of a police patrol dog it leaves you with a heavy heart. It is also a challenging time as my only love was to continue working in the Toronto Police Dog Unit. There are never any guarantees in staying in the unit.

 

Management at the time made the decision for me to stay as a supervisor working operationally as a handler.

As a result in 2007 I met my fourth Police Canine Partner Iron lll. He was a beautiful sable tall German Shepherd. We trained hard on basic course and quickly certified for the streets of Toronto.

 

During his first year of operational work we quickly had incidents of confrontation with suspects where Iron lll had to apprehend. Iron lll showed anxiety and was hesitant to apprehend a suspect without a sleeve on. For those that are not experienced in law enforcement patrol canine work this is not uncommon for new police dogs.

 

Fortunately for Iron lll I had some experience with this and I was not about to abandon my canine police partner. I devised a training plan and it was in short time addressed . It was not long after this that I had a non- compliant suspect that was criminally wanted for an offence. I commanded Iron lll to apprehend and when he did I praised him for the contact and the rest was history. Iron lll was now confident moving forward and it was not a problem.

Iron lll did not compete in any United States Police Canine Certifications because I was now judging annually in these events.

 

However Iron lll did compete in the Irondog agility competition which was held in York Region and hosted here by my agency and I in Toronto. Heck with a Police Dog named Iron I had to compete. Iron lll represented well and we placed in the Masters Division in York Region.

 

Iron lll located and arrested many criminal offenders in his first two years of work. However in 2009 the calls of service were greatly reduced due to the fact that I accepted the Chief Instructor position with the Toronto Police Canine Unit.

 

Iron lll did serve well with me until my retirement in 2014. Iron lll had a wonderful retirement until his peaceful passing in 2017.

 

Iron lll thank you for your service. You served well and you will never be forgotten in my heart for your loyal companionship and partnership.

NARCOTIC/FIREARM DETECTION DOG INDIANA JOAN 

Following the passing of N.D.D. Bandit. I was not prepared to end my career as a Detector Dog Handler. As a result of my growing experiences and involvement in training I was asked to select and train my new Detection Dog partner.

I was then given full responsibility by management to select my new canine partner and take lead instructor position on this course. 

I was also the first trainer/handler to introduce puppies to the canine program. I learned in the past as the lead instructor that having puppies is in short term is hard work however the long term gains are tremendous.

In 2008 I selected a beautiful female puppy English Springer Spaniel which was named Indiana Joan. Well Miss Indy had no ideal what she was in for. As soon as she arrived as a puppy we started the training exposing her to many new environments and noises. This continued to introducing profile odours and distractor odours.

N.D.D. Indiana was fully certified at an early age of eight months. She had a wonderful career locating contraband in vehicles and search warrants until her retirement with me in 2014.

Due to political management changes the Police Service did try to take her away from me. But I did not give up on her and made difficult for them to do so. The management at the time determined a price for me to pay for her. The management did not know that it did not matter what the price was I would pay it. As I never did give up any of my past partners and I was not about to do so now. So I paid their price and Indiana was retired with Iron lll and my family. Woot Woot !!

Indiana also had a wonderful retirement until her passing in 2018. Indiana I miss my daily hugs and kisses and I thank you for being a wonderful Police Dog partner and your service.

I thought that after losing one Police Dog partner that it would get easier to deal with the next one. I was totally wrong on that one! The loss of each following canine partner became harder and harder. I cried with each one. Their loss was felt like losing a close human family. When you spend your time with a police canine at work and at home. You actually spend more time with them than your own family members. I certainly felt that bond when I worked with them all and when I loss them.

Now that all my six police canine partners are gone I now look to the skies and remember them all as my canine guardian angels. Your memories will never be erased and they were all amazing!!!

 

Love you always your partner Paul !