EDMONTON – Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Edmonton Monday to honour a promise the government made in October’s throne speech—to better protect police service animals injured or killed in the line of duty.
Called “Quanto’s Law” in honour of Quanto, a police service dog that was killed in Edmonton in Oct. 7, 2013, the proposed legislation would denounce and deter the willful harming of specially trained animals used to help law enforcement officers, persons with disabilities or the Canadian Armed Forces.
EPS dog Quanto died after being stabbed during the takedown of a fleeing suspect. At the time, the strongest criminal charge that could be laid was cruelty to an animal.
Quanto’s Law includes proposed Criminal Code amendments that would create a new offence specifically prohibiting the injuring or killing of animals trained and being used to help law enforcement officers, persons with disabilities, or the Canadian Armed Forces.
If passed, those convicted under Quanto’s Law could face up to five years in prison, with a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in prison if the law enforcement animal is killed.
If a law enforcement officer is assaulted or a service animal injured or killed while on duty, the sentence for that offence would be served consecutively to another other sentence from the same event.
While Quanto’s Law would most commonly relate to dogs, horses are also used by some police forces. All animals trained as service animals would be protected under Quanto’s Law.
“The charge of cruelty to animals… it wasn’t put together to deal with assaults, injuries, or deaths surrounding law enforcement animals,” said EPS Staff Sgt. Troy Carriere after returning from Ottawa to hear the throne speech. “This legislation deals with all of the above with law enforcement animals, and that’s what we need. To have a successful prosecution, we need the laws written to deal with the actual incident itself.”
The RCMP currently has 157 police service dogs in service across Canada. Canada Border Services Agency has 53 dog-and-handler teams.
Harper planned to introduce the legislation in the House of Commons later Monday afternoon.
Harper, along with his wife Laureen and MP Rona Ambrose, attended the special event with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Canine Unit.
Cst. Matt Williamson, who was Quanto’s handler, also participated in the event on Monday.
“These service animals are not pets,” said Harper. “They are important investments that police services – and others – make in animals that perform very specialized duties. Tens of thousands of dollars of training go into animals like this, and when they are attacked – as of course the late Quanto was – not only is that a loss of a considerable asset for police services, it also, of course, is a wider attack on the police services that protect us.”
“We think it’s essential that those who do do these animals harm be appropriately punished and that’s why we’re proceeding.”
In February, Paul Vukmanich received a 26-month global sentence for the incident Quanto was involved in, including 18 months for killing the police dog.
“Quanto’s violent death is a powerful and sad reminder of the dangers that law enforcement animals often face in assisting officers to protect Canadians and communities,” said Harper.
“This legislation honours those faithful animals and emphasizes the special role that they play.”
© Shaw Media, 2014