Meet the Dominican women fighting against drug trafficking

What can possibly be more beautiful than puppies? Well, to me…women, brave women. But if there’s something even more awesome than that: brave women working with dogs in order to improve security and reduce crime. This week, as I travel around the beautiful Dominican Republic (DR), I got the chance to visit a pretty awesome project supported by the EU.

Karla Terrero, a young woman about to graduate (with her dog) as certified agents.

If you’re following us on Instagram, you might’ve seen I was heading out to the Central Mountain Range of the DR, that’s because I was visiting the Regional Centre of Canine Training K9 of the DNCD (National Direction of Drug Control). Here, as you can guess from the name, military agents are formed and trained to become binomios which pretty much means they’re certified field agents that can work with their dogs on drug-related operations, as well as at airports, customs and ports. And as soon as I entered their facilities I was greeted with a pleasant surprise: lots of women training alongside men.

Field agents at their training facilities. The combination of an agent + the K9 unit is called ''binomio''.

I can understand if you don’t see this as a big deal, but when it comes to gender equality, I must say, we still have a long way to go in the Dominican Republic and of course, military forces aren’t exempt from this. But in this place, things seem to be changing for good. According to information provided by Carlos Devers (DNCD’s PR Director), of the first promotion that graduated, only 5% were women. Now they’re about to celebrate their 13th graduation and that percentage is up to 25 %. While talking about this, Carlos also told me that as an institution they’re taking action to raise those numbers, which is great news because it’s a step towards achieving the 5th Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs).

Yaritza Alexandra plays with her german shepherd as a reward.

This project/branch of the DNCD is also helping to fight drug trafficking, prevent crime and violence related to drug smuggling as well as prevent transnational felonies and illegal financial activity. So, not only women and Dominican citizens in general are somehow benefiting from this, but also other countries like Haiti and Honduras. These countries have received training from Dominican agents graduated from this programme to help create K9 units in their respective military forces. In the case of Honduras, they first started with 18 students (binomios), their 2nd promotion had a total of 52 binomios and the third one 56, which led to the creation of the Batallón Canino (Canine Battalion).

Since this project started nine years ago, just in the Dominican Republic they’ve graduated 304 binomios, that means 304 hired agents making a living out of a decent work (8th SDG by the way). Because of the acceptance the project has and the effectiveness it has proven, the EU helped create new units on the Dominican – Haitian border able to host the dogs and agents. These units are located in Elías Piña and Jimaní, and they look like this:

Dogs are placed on the 1st floor when not working, agents on the 2nd.

So, after learning about this awesome project I was left with one hard task: enjoy the love and company of all these lovely dogs.

Happy to be sharing with part of this new prom! (And of course, all those beautiful dogs)

But before I leave, I'd like to ask you: what would you like to read about? It's been a challenge to write about this project and the market I wrote about last week since I'm used to having direct contact with people and not so much with projects like these that are related to logistics and infrastructures, so I'd love to hear your feedback.

PS: next week I'll be visiting more projects with beautiful stories, so stay tuned! Enjoy this beautiful malinois.

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