Veterinarian Dr. Ken Hubbard of Cedarwood Vet Hospital has been honoured with a Commissioner’s Commendation for his service with the RCMP Police Dog Service Breeding Program.
Dr. Hubbard was one of the founding members of the program. The program began with a single female over 30 years ago, and now sends pups all across the country for services within the RCMP.
“It’s special to be recognized, but I guess especially neat to be recognized for something I’m passionate about. I’ve seen the program start with one female and the first litter. Initially, they were going to see if they could raise part of the requirements for the breeding program and now this is successful enough to be able to provide dogs for other police forces,” said Hubbard.
“In terms of the program and the quality and direction, it’s certainly an elite and a world class breeding program. That’s been very rewarding to see that. Professionally, it’s very satisfying to receive this award but the success of the program is really what has been significant for me.”
Hubbard’s involvement lies within the reproduction aspect of the program. Using cryogenically frozen genetics from the male dogs, Hubbard inseminates a female and cares for her through her gestation period, the pregnancy and during the birth of the pups.
“We really oversee the entire breeding program. We see all the female dogs. The females are in what they called brood keepers, all around Central Alberta. I’m not sure of the exact number but it’s between 20 to 30 dogs.”
Hubbard has been involved since the inception of the program. He explained that the RCMP approached him to see if he could help get a private breeding program off the ground. The work with frozen genetics from the dogs was a new technology at the time and the work Hubbard did with the RCMP was some of the first of its kind Canada had seen.
“(Using frozen specimen) has really allowed the program to succeed as well as it has. That was neat in that it was brand new technology. It’d been used a lot in cattle and swine but very limited use in dogs, but it was kind of neat to bring it over to the dog world. With that, there were a lot of unknowns we had to unravel and sort out, so it was extremely academically challenging.
“We didn’t have a lot of places to go to get help, nothing to compare it to – we had to work it out ourselves. We’ve certainly had bumps along the way to work through. It’s been very satisfying to see the program grow to where it is now. “
Hubbard describes the program as, “Hugely complex, with a lot of cogs in the wheel.” He praises the work of the other people at Cedarwood Vet Hospital, the kennels and the RCMP officers who dedicate their time to loving and training the animals.
“All these people that are so important to the program often go unrecognized, yet without them, the program certainly wouldn’t succeed. When we work with and handle (the police pups), they are just really amazing, cool dogs. It’s been neat to have a working dog come in for some procedure and hear some of the stories and things that they’ve done.”