Ric Hall’s Photo Corner: Police Service Dogs

RCMP-Dogs-(1)_web

 

 

 

 

For this week’s Photo Corner, Ric has selected the theme of “RCMP Police Service Dogs.”

 

 

 

 

The term ‘police dog‘ is not limited to a specific particular breed.  Today, we associate police dogs as being German Shepherds. As early as 1908, Force members used their own personal dogs to assist in searching for individuals.

One of the first Western Canadian police agencies to introduce police service dogs was the Alberta Provincial Police in 1919.  However, the dogs were limited to tracking and only were a functional unit for one year.

The member who initiated this RCMP unit was an ex-Alberta Provincial Police member – John N. Cawsey (Reg. #11462).  The dog was a German Shepherd named Dale of Cawsalta who had previously be owned and trained by Cawsey.

On October 8, 1935, John Cawsey and his dog Dale were delegated to respond to their first call for duty as a RCMP Service Dog team.  The incident was summarized in the Canadian newspapers as the “Seven Dead In Police Fight Crime Wave Takes Toll of Life.”

Noted situation started on October 4, 1935 with Constables John Shaw (Reg. #11582) and Constable William Wainwright (member of the Benito Police Service in Manitoba) taking into custody three suspects: John Kalmakoff (21 years); Joseph Posnikoff (20 years) and Peter Woiken (18 years) and placed them in the rear seat of RCMP police car.

While on route to Pelly Detachment in Manitoba, the two policemen were overpowered and killed.  Their bodies were thrown into a muddy slough by the side of the road.  When both men failed to return a search commenced.  It was not until October 7, 1935 that their bodies were located.

A public radio alert went out across the prairies for the missing police car with the Manitoba license number of 29-812 and no details were released about two killed policemen.  The RCMP  distributed news of the killings to all police departments and RCMP Detachments.

On same day the bodies were located, the missing police car was reported being spotted at Canmore Alberta heading west. The Banff Detachment was advised and four members setout to intercept the missing car: Sgt. Thomas Wallace, Constables G.E. Combe, George Harrison and Grey Campbell.

Four miles east of Banff, Sgt. Wallace and Constable Harrison were stopped by an approaching vehicle whose occupants advised that they had just been robbed by the occupants in the car following them.  Both Wallace and Harrison approached the suspect vehicle.  Moments later two shots went through the front window hitting Harrison in the neck and Wallace in the chest.

Despite being wounded, Wallace and Harrison directed return fire resulting in three suspects exiting the vehicle and heading into the bush with the arrival of another police vehicle.

As the pursuit continued in the bush, there was an occasional exchange of gunfire between the fleeing suspects and the pursuing members.  In the first exchange of gun fire, Joseph Posnikoff was killed by Constable Combe.  The two other suspects disappeared into the heavy bush.

Photograph of RCMP Veteran William Neish (Source of photo - RCMP Veterans Database).

Photograph of RCMP Veteran William Neish (Source of photo – RCMP Veterans Database).

 

 

 

 

 

Upon hearing of the news of the shootings, civilians stepped forwarded to volunteer to assist the RCMP.  One such individual was Banff Park Ranger William Neish who was a previous member of the RCMP (Reg. #7718) and known as a rifle marksman.

 

 

 

Both volunteers and addition RCMP members continued the manhunt  for the two suspects.  It was reported that some RCMP members were armed with hand grenades and others with gas guns.  It was at this stage that Sgt. John Cawsey and his dog Dale were delegated to join the search team.

Despite the cold and rain then turning to snow, Dale was able to pick up the scent of the two remaining two suspects.  When the two suspects were spotted – Park Ranger William Neish yelled for the suspects to surrender.  In the ensuing gun battle, Neish critically wounded the two suspects.  The two suspects were transported to the Banff Spring Hospital where they died later in the day.

Sergeant Wallace and Constable Shaw also died of their wounds.

Cawsey and Dale became well known in Alberta and provided a wide range of services to support the RCMP and the communities they served:

  • tracking automobile thieves from deserted stolen cars to their home;
  • tracking burglars;
  • locating lost and stolen goods; and
  • finding and saving the lives of missing individuals.

Dale would later go on to be awarded the “Diploma of Honour” of the Dog World of the United States for his outstanding abilities and service.

The success of the unit resulted in Dale’s son – Black Lux and another German Shepherd called Sultan.  Based on the repeated success of these Police Service Dogs, Commissioner MacBrien approved the establishment of a training school in Calgary in 1937 for both dogs and their handlers.

Sgt. Cawsey’s son joined the Force and was also one of the original RCMP  police dog handlers.  His name was Lorne C. Cawsey (Reg. #12807).

The Police Service Dog members continue to directly support operational police members across Canada. Ric has included some photos below of Force’s Police Service Dogs and their handlers.

Photograph of the RCMP's first Police Service Dog - Dale of Cawsalta (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of the RCMP’s first Police Service Dog – Dale of Cawsalta (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

1938 - Photograph of Police Service Dog - Dale with Sub-Constable Lorne C. Cawsey (son of Sgt. John Cawsey) taken in Madstone Saskatchewan (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

1938 – Photograph of Police Service Dog – Dale with Sub-Constable Lorne C. Cawsey (son of Sgt. John Cawsey) taken in Madstone Saskatchewan (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Photograph of an early  unknown RCMP Police Service Dog and the handler (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of an early unknown RCMP Police Service Dog and the handler (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Photograph of a RCMP Police Dog and the handler (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of a RCMP Police Dog and the handler (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Photograph of an RCMP Police Service Dog and the handler (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Corner).

Photograph of an RCMP Police Service Dog and the handler (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Corner).

Photograph of RCMP Police Service Dogs and their handlers (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Corner).

Photograph of RCMP Police Service Dogs and their handlers (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Corner).

According to Ric, “In 1939 Dale and his handler searched the box cars at the train station in Unity, Sask, prior to the arrival of the Royal Train carrying King George VI and Queen Elizabeth was to make a brief stop.  About two months later, the eight-year old German shepherd showed signs of of rheumatism and a strained heart.  

A board of RCMP  officers discussed Dale just as they would have for a Regular Member .   They found the remarkable dog unfit for further service, and ordered him returned to his original owner Sgt. John Cawsey.  In special recognition of his outstanding  work, they established a precedent by granting him a small pension to cover the cost of his food.  Dale’s work was never recognized in the courts, it laid the foundation for other dogs’ work.  

In fact the first case in a Canadian court to accept evidence produced by a dog was in February 1940.   The dog involved was Black Lux, son of Dale.”

To honour the achievements of the Dale of Cawsalta, there is a life-sized statue in front of the RCMP’s Dog Handling Center in Innisfail Alberta.

In 2007, the RCMP named their new Administrative Building at Innisfail – “Sergeant John Cawsey Building” in honour of the contributions made by John Cawsey to the RCMP Police Dog Service program.

This naming initiative was undertaken by Veteran Bill Hulgaard in honour of John Cawsey and his family.  Bill received much praise from the family for his efforts.

Photograph of a RCMP Police Service Dog and handler (Source of Photo - Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

Photograph of a RCMP Police Service Dog and handler (Source of Photo – Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

If you have any old Force photographs that Ric could include in a forthcoming Photo Corner webpage, please email him at rshall69@shaw.ca. Ric will scan the image and return the original to you.

The Photo Corner continues to be one of our most popular webpages.  This success is attributed to photographs being forwarded to Ric.

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage

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