Antje's adventures continue with puppies

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 March, 2010, 12:00am

Police dog Antje, who went missing for 10 days last month, has given birth to eight puppies.

The three-year-old Belgian shepherd delivered one male and seven female healthy puppies on Thursday.

Antje was pregnant before she went missing, but a dog training expert says that her escape from a police station might not have been related to the pregnancy as normally dogs were emotionally stable during gestation.

Chief Inspector Lee Cheuk-wai, of the police dog unit, said yesterday that Antje was confirmed pregnant after she was put into a breeding programme in January at the police dog headquarters in Sha Ling. The force started a police dog breeding programme to meet operational needs and save costs.

Cheung Chung-chiu, director of training at the Hong Kong Canine Training Association, said Antje's walkabout for 10 days might not have been related to her condition as dogs were gentler during pregnancy. 'A pregnant bitch requires more food than normal.'

Police had issued a public appeal to find Antje after she escaped from Cheung Sha Wan Police Station by leaping over the fence around its kennel on February 7. At the time of her escape, she would have been about three weeks into her pregnancy.

Antje was found by a villager in Kwai Chung, about one kilometre away from the police station.

She was found with a minor leg injury and had lost about one kilogram in weight.

Antje will now be on maternity leave until the end of May before resuming patrol duties.

Police dogs with good health, character and working ability are selected for the breeding programme. A normal pregnancy lasts 63 days. Newborn police puppies receive close attention, including vaccinations and breastfeeding is monitored.

Puppies are adopted by selected host families under a police programme of care and support to enable the development of sound character and working temperament. The puppies, at 11/2 years are then returned to the force to start their formal training.