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Bus Depot guard dogs

By CPO Tim Adams
First published in
SFOR Informer #89, June 7, 2000

Mrkonjic Grad Bus Depot - Heaven help the poor soul that tries to penetrate the security system at the SFOR base at Mrkonjic Grad Bus Depot because intruders are likely to meet either Zak or Suly. Neither one of them takes kindly to intruders and they can be most difficult to negotiate with. They like nothing better than to chase down security threats with lighting speed and hold them with sharp, flashing, powerful fangs.

These SFOR security assets are very large German Shepherd dogs that can knock down grown men and control them with jaws capable of hundreds of pounds per inch of crushing power.

The only people who are allowed to pet Zak and Suly are their handlers, Pvt. Ian Nuttall and L/cpl. Paul Kitching, both from the UK. Both dog handlers have been through a special dog handling course back in England. "We form a relationship with just one dog and we carry on its training. The dog should listen to you and you only," explained Nuttall who has pet Labrador Retrievers back home. "Your dog works for you and should naturally like you. You feed and groom your dog every day," he said. Zak and Suly also receive expert veterinary care at Banja Luka where veterinarians treat a variety of other dogs from other bases as well.

Suly and Zak are never allowed to just run free around the base. They are kept on a strong leash while patrolling and are only used in extreme conditions, explained Nuttall. "My dog's a weapon so I can only release it if the situation is life threatening to me. Say someone comes into camp, for example, trying to steal something. I catch them and they fire at me. My dog goes and I fire at the same time, because I carry a pistol." Nuttall also pointed out there is a natural, un-holy fear of ferocious dogs that acts as a deterrent factor to keep people from trying anything. "The dog has a reputation, it's going to get you whatever."

Nuttall's official military training is in signals, but at his home base he is also the driver for the Commanding Officer's Warrior. When the 1st Battalion of the King's Royal Border Regiment finishes their mission and goes home in five months, Nuttall and Kitching will have to say good-by to Suly and Zak. The dogs will stay here in Bosnia and Hercegovina and learn to work with new handlers.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: U.K.
SFOR at work