SINGAPORE - He is an avid dog lover who is working as an auxiliary police officer with Certis Cisco.
When the chance came for Mr Chan Yubo, 23, to mix both his career and his interest, he jumped at the opportunity.
He is one of the first nine dog handlers in Certis Cisco's new K-9 unit, which was launched at the Certis Cisco Centre in Paya Lebar on Tuesday (Jan 29).
The first auxiliary police K-9 unit in Singapore, Certis K-9 will work alongside auxiliary police and aviation security officers to safeguard key installations here.
These include airports, sea ports, transport hubs, and at major events where human traffic is high.
"I really love dogs. I have a small dog, a chihuahua, at home. When I heard of this opportunity, I immediately decided to join," said Mr Chan.
An auxiliary police officer for almost five years, he was paired with Thomas, a labrador retriever, when he joined the unit in September last year.
"Thomas has a lot of patience, and we get along perfectly fine. There's time for work, and there's a time for playing. He especially likes his squishy ball," he said.
Certis, a security organisation which delivers multi-disciplinary security and integrated services, will start with 10 dogs initially.
One dog is currently undergoing explosives detection training in the United Kingdom.
The dogs are from various breeds, such as labrador retrievers and English springer spaniels, and aged between one and 1½.
They will be in service until they are retired at about eight years old, after which they will be put up for adoption, a procedure similar to their counterparts in the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
They are brought in from the UK and the Netherlands, and follow the same training regime as their SPF counterparts, to ensure that they can work together if the need arises.
Mr Matthew Ng, commanding officer of the enforcement and events division of the Certis auxiliary police force, said the K-9 unit was formed to meet the heightened security threat here.
"Dogs are extremely intelligent animals and certain breeds can be trained to be highly effective in detecting contraband and explosives," he said.
He said the dogs will be assigned to tasks such as cargo screening and conducting deterrence patrols.
Highlighting the efficiency of the animals, he said they may sometimes be better at humans or machines in carrying out screening work.
For example, a team of two human officers would take 20 to 30 minutes to thoroughly check a vehicle, using equipment such as undercarriage mirrors.
But a dog can complete the task in just five to 10 minutes, according to Mr Ng.
Certis intends to eventually increase the fleet of dogs to 24, although there is no timeline as it would depend on market requirements.
Mr Ng added that "significant investment" went into starting this new unit.
A new kennel is being built for the Certis K-9 unit in Toh Tuck Crescent which would have grooming and training facilities.
It is expected to be completed between June and September this year.