Two Belgian Malinois cadaver dogs, named Maya and Murphy, were a major attraction when the evidence collection in the suspected human sacrifices case got under way at Elanthoor village in Pathanamthitta district on Saturday. Every time the dogs stopped and sniffed at the sprawling compound of Bhagaval Singh and Laila, the second and third accused in the case, there was an air of anticipation all around. It proved misplaced, though.
Trained at the Kerala Police Academy in Thrissur, the two dogs were inducted into service in March 2020. They were among the 35 dogs trained at the academy in two batches. According to the police, the dogs were trained in detecting old and decomposed bodies and human remains buried at a depth of even 40 feet.
In fact, Maya was instrumental in fishing out eight bodies in the landslide that struck Pettimudy in Idukki in 2020. At that time, she had been into training for just three months. A year later when another landslide hit Kokkayar, also in Idukki, Maya and Murphy jointly detected four bodies.
Belgian Malinois dogs are known for their energy and intelligence. They are capable of being on the field for hours together with little rest. The Kerala Police has 36 Belgian Malinois dogs. Of them, 17 belong to the tracker category trained for assisting in murder and theft cases while 13 are trained in detecting explosives. Three are trained in sniffing out drugs and narcotics. Apart from Maya and Murphy, the force has another cadaver dog named Angel.
Havildar P. Prabhat and police constable Bony Babu are the handlers of Maya while civil police officer George Manual K.S. and police constable Nikhil Krishna K.G. handle Murphy.
26 dog squads
The Kerala Police has 26 dog squads, known as K-9 Squad, across 26 police districts. K-9 Squad remains under the control of ADGP M.R. Ajith Kumar and Southern Range Inspector General P. Prakash is the deputy nodal officer. S. Suresh, Assistant Commandant of Kerala Armed Police third battalion, is in charge of the dog squad.