The Calgary Police Service is investigating after a child was injured by an off-duty police dog in training.
According to police, an off-duty Canine Unit officer was at his home grooming his police service dog at around 1:40 p.m. on Saturday.
The officer was on his deck in a fenced backyard when the man’s young son came onto the deck and was bitten by the dog.
The boy was taken to hospital with serious injuries and has since been released.
The dog has been moved to the CPS kennels. After an assessment, the dog could be reallocated, returned to its broker or put through more training.
Police said the officer is off work to be with his family and the service is supporting them. The officer has only been with the force for three months but put in 300 hours of his off-patrol time to train for the canine unit.
In a statement released on Sunday, Insp. Nancy Farmer said Calgary police are “very concerned for our member and his family who were involved in this incident.”
“While we take this incident very seriously, it is important to recognize the vital role that our police service dogs play in the Calgary Police Service,” she said.
“These animals require a high level of socialization, and being at home with their handlers during their time off is critical to developing a strong bond between the dog and their officer.”
Farmer said it’s important to the well-being of police dogs that they continue to live in their handlers’ homes instead of in kennels.
“When we’re at work, we work. When we’re at home, we’re allowed to actually exhale, and that’s what we do with our dogs as well. That’s why they go home,” Farmer said Monday.
It’s standard practice for police canine units around the world, she said.
“In fact, keeping them at a kennel 24-7 when they’re not being operational and they’re in their off time is actually more detrimental to an animal.”
Calgary Community Standards is also being engaged to conduct a separate review of the incident.
The CPS Canine Unit consists of 22 police service dogs.
Housing the animals at home with their handlers during time off is standard practice for police canine units internationally.
According to CPS, an event like this is considered to be “extremely rare.”
– With files from Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press