• Kyodo

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In a bid to elevate awareness of police dogs and to promulgate law-enforcement messages, officers in Tokyo are distributing collectible cards for their canine partners.

The cards bear the dog’s name and photo, with crime-fighting slogans on the back.

“People sometimes turn down our fliers, but they’re prepared to line up for the name cards,” said Hiroaki Anzai of the Metropolitan Police Department’s identification section, which started distributing the cards last May.

At a destruction ceremony for seized narcotics in December near Tokyo Skytree, police handed out almost 500 cards to visitors in just half an hour.

“I had only seen (police dogs) on TV before. Now they seem much more familiar to me,” said a woman in her 50s who snagged a card.

As of last month, 43 dogs had cards, including some that have now retired. Fourteen different slogans are found on the back, including “No! to ‘Dangerous Drugs’ ” and “Protect yourself from hazardous sites.”

Tokyo police dogs are deployed on missions about 800 times a year. Each animal has a specialty, such as drugs or firearms.

It was a drug-sniffing dog named Illumina, a black Labrador retriever, that detected small packets containing tiny amounts of illegal substances last May at the home of singer-songwriter Aska, who was later found guilty of possessing and using illegal stimulants.

The department hopes people will learn more about the work of police dogs and that the dogs would come to play a greater role in police work.

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