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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 14:15 GMT
SA police dogs 'should be killed'
video grab showing suspect being attacked by police dogs
This amateur video footage horrified South Africans
Up to 90% of South Africa's police dogs that go out on patrol should be destroyed, a renowned international police dog trainer said on Wednesday.

Hans Schegel, owner of the Swiss K9 training school, told BBC News Online that there was a fundamental problem with police dog training in South Africa.

They don't trust anybody and cannot socialise with other dogs or people

Hans Schegel
And he said the dogs were too psychologically sick to be rehabilitiated.

"The dogs are trained on fear... so they have no trust in human beings," Mr Schegel said

His comments come after he witnessed a recent South African programme that showed members of a police dog unit setting their dogs on illegal immigrants.

The broadcast horrified many South Africans, and the six white policemen who appeared in the video were subsequently charged with attempted murder.

(Click here to see more about the trial of the policemen )

Old fashioned methods

Mr Schlegel said the police training programme, which was essentially racist and based on fears of dogs among the non-white community, was at least 50 years behind that used by European police forces.

dog biting suspected car thief in BBC film
A BBC film last year also showed vicious attacks
He said the images of dogs disobeying their handlers and having to be pulled off their victims revealed an enormous training problem.

"They don't trust anybody and cannot socialise with other dogs or people and are kept in cages after hours," he said.

Any new training programme would have to start from scratch with German Shepherd puppies and only use "emotionally stable and calm" dog handlers.

Mr Schlegel has been invited over to South Africa to help with the training of police dogs.

On his last visit to South Africa two years ago, Mr Schlegel warned that training needed to be revamped but nothing was done because of budget constraints.

Germany, France, Greece, Austria and Canada and several American states train dogs using his programme.

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See also:

08 Nov 00 | Africa
Brutality charges for SA police
30 Aug 00 | Africa
Whites reject Mbeki criticism
19 May 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The brutal imprint of apartheid
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