Police's best friend: PC Rhiannon Furbert and PC Helen McHugh with Ciro and Buck. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Police's best friend: PC Rhiannon Furbert and PC Helen McHugh with Ciro and Buck. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
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For the island’s two newest K9 handlers, their crime-fighting partners are far more than just highly-trained dogs.

“He’s not just my partner when I go out on patrol, he is like a son and my best friend, too,” says PC Rhiannon Furbert of Ciro the German Shepherd.

PC Furbert, along with PC Helen McHugh and their dogs Ciro and Buck, are the latest additions to Police K9 Unit.

And in just a few months they have made a big impression in the community by diffusing fights, detecting drugs and tracking runaway teens.

The two officers are rightfully proud of the new canine recruits that originate in Holland.

Their presence in the unit also happens to be the first time there has been two female handlers in the K9 section.

PC McHugh came to Bermuda from the UK in 2010, having previously served as a front line officer in North Wales.

She told the Sun: “When I first arrived in Bermuda I did most of my work from Hamilton Police Station and a bit of time with CID.

“I applied for this position because I wanted a new challenge and a change.

“I love animals and the idea of being a K9 handler is something that has been in my mind for a long time.”

PC Furbert, who joined the force in 2010 and previously worked out of Hamilton, added: “I have always loved animals, so this job is a dream come true for me.

“I know that when we are out on patrol he has my back.”

PCs McHugh and Furbert first came face-to-face with their new companions during a training course in the US last October.

And the two dogs, who are both nearly two years old, came back to Bermuda with the officers in November. Their training will continue on the job, but they have been specially trained to detect firearms, ammunition and drugs, and can track scents too.

And these skills have already secured drug seizures, defused violent situations and been used to track escaped suspects.

PC McHugh said: “Every day brings a new challenge.

“We are attached to the Police Support Unit but can be sent to everything from search warrants to scenes where firearms have been discharged.”

PC Furbert added: “We also go into schools to help with awareness and education programmes.

“And the response from members of the public is generally very positive.

“Our dogs are still a work in progress, but they have already achieved some good results.

“It is very rewarding when you see the training come to the fore in a live situation and lead to a good result. It also makes you very proud of your dog, too.”