Opinion Column

Police dogs deserve action, not words 0

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Deputy Chief Danielle Campbell, stands beside a photograph of the police service dog, Quanto, on Monday Oct. 7, 2013. Quanto died after being stabbed during an altercation with a criminal flight suspect. (Tom Braid/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency)

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Deputy Chief Danielle Campbell, stands beside a photograph of the police service dog, Quanto, on Monday Oct. 7, 2013. Quanto died after being stabbed during an altercation with a criminal flight suspect. (Tom Braid/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency)

An Edmonton Police Service dog named Quanto was killed in October by a fleeing suspect. That prompted calls from across the country — including in this space — for specific legislation amending the Criminal Code of Canada to protect these valuable animals.

The federal government seemed to respond when the throne speech in October mentioned the creation of “Quanto’s Law,” although few specific details were supplied after the speech by the justice ministry. Acting Staff Sgt. Troy Carriere, the head of the EPS canine unit, and Const. Matt Williamson, Quanto’s handler, flew to Ottawa for the speech.

Carriere expressed satisfaction with the media after the speech, saying it didn’t offer “complete closure,” but was a start.

Since then, however, not much has happened from a legislative point of view.

Then on Sunday, Vancouver police observed a stolen van on Hastings Street. Officers tried to box it in, but when the driver didn’t comply with their instructions, police service dog Shack was released to take the suspect down.

The suspect allegedly produced a pair of scissors and began stabbing Shack repeatedly. Shack’s handler and other attending officers jumped into the fray and secured the suspect and the weapon. Shack was rushed to a veterinary hospital and treated for multiple wounds.

Fortunately, Shack will be fine, but it is yet another illustration of the dangers these animals face with little to no meaningful deterrent.

Meanwhile in Ottawa, Richmond Hill MP Costas Menegakis tabled a private member’s bill in May to protect law enforcement animals, including horses, with special penalties. The bill languished for much of the year, but has seemingly gained some traction after the death of Quanto.

Now, I harbour no illusions about how difficult it is to get things done in Ottawa. And certainly the media and opposition politicians have been focused on such issues as the Senate expense scandal. But the government made a big show in October about what they were going to do about protecting service animals.

In addition to Williamson and Carriere coming to Ottawa for the throne speech, the government also invited Toronto Police Service Staff Insp. Bill Wardle and Const. Kevin Bradfield.

Bradfield was riding his police horse Brigadier in 2006 when a suspect drove into them. Brigadier was subsequently put down.

The politicians gave us the show. Now it’s time they live up to their words and pass “Quanto’s Law.”

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.

 

 

 

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