Sarnia Police Engage Local Schoolchildren to Name New Police Dog

by Lisa

Local elementary school students in Sarnia have been invited to participate in a unique initiative by the Sarnia Police Service: naming their first new police dog in nearly three decades.

Following a hiatus since the late 1990s, the Sarnia Police Service is set to re-establish a local team consisting of a trained dog and a police officer handler. Constable Shawn Urban has been appointed as the handler for the new police dog, which will be selected in early April, according to Inspector Michael Van Sickle.


To involve the community in this significant event, Sarnia police have reached out to children aged 4 to 14, encouraging them to submit names for the new police dog. The release emphasized that names should consist of one or two syllables for easy recognition by the dog and should align with the values of the city police.


Marika Sylvain Groendyk, a police spokesperson, expressed gratitude for the community’s enthusiastic response, noting that over 75 suggestions were received within the first 24 hours. She highlighted the importance of involving community youth in such endeavors.


The selection of the dog’s name will involve Urban and other officials, with the announcement scheduled for April 15.


Van Sickle explained that Sarnia is collaborating with the Windsor police to select and train the new team. The dog, likely to be one to two years old, will be of Eastern European descent, imported to the U.S. via a Pennsylvania broker.

The budget allocated for Sarnia’s police this year includes funding to reinstate a dog team after 27 years. Currently, Sarnia relies on the OPP for police dog services when needed.

Chief Derek Davis expressed excitement about the final stages of creating the new team, emphasizing the community’s expectation of this priority.

The “dual-purpose” dog will serve various functions, including apprehension and search efforts, such as finding evidence, tracking suspects, and protecting officers in dangerous situations.

Urban, the appointed handler, will undergo extensive training with the dog for 15 weeks with Windsor police training partners and is expected to be operational by late summer. Van Sickle highlighted that Urban’s selection was based on his exceptional policing career and community reputation.

The addition of a city police dog unit will enhance the efficiency of police services, enabling quicker and more frequent deployment when needed, Van Sickle added. He hinted at the possibility of evaluating the addition of a second dog in the future.


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