The first stab-resistant multi-purpose harnesses for police dogs are being put to action this week in centres including Rotorua.
The 'Mako' harness will be fitted with layered polymer panels to shield the vital organs from stabbing and slashing.
The robust overall design is made from milspec nylon and trelleborg material which does not absorb moisture and also gives the animal protection from blows and kicks. When the animals are in this harness, they'll have a similar level of protection as an officer does when wearing their stab resistant body armour vest.
Ten dogs based in Rotorua, Wellington, Palmerston North, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Nelson, Whangarei, Auckland, Christchurch, and Tauranga will this week receive their new kit.
Wellington patrol dog Dakota got to try on her new harness for the first time today and was very happy with her new attire.
Wellington Dog Section head Senior Sergeant Mark Davidson said this was an exciting time for the 10 dogs and their handlers receiving the new harness.
"It's a bit of a milestone for the dog section in terms of staff and dog safety. We've been really aware over the years that our dogs had only speed and mobility for protection, but with this new harness we've given them another level of protection alongside that," he said.
The harness weighs just over one kilogram and is designed so it won't impair agility and speed, dries quickly, and can be worn throughout a shift.
The harnesses have been designed by Hamilton-based specialist Sabre Tactical NZ and are being manufactured in New Zealand.
The remaining 120 harnesses are being rolled out to dogs across the country and the whole dog force will be wearing the harness within three months.
See www.youtube.com/policenz for a video of patrol dog Ike and the harness in action.