Opinion Column

No justice for stabbed police dog Teak 0

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

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

Teak was forced to retire as a Vancouver police service dog after being stabbed by a suspect in January 2013. He is still recovering from his wounds.

Teak was forced to retire as a Vancouver police service dog after being stabbed by a suspect in January 2013. He is still recovering from his wounds. (HANDOUT)

One of the joys of writing a newspaper column is interacting with readers, whether it’s engaging in debate, hearing from the haters, or just saying thank you.

Last week's column called for the federal government to get off its collective duff and pass a law dubbed in the throne speech as “Quanto's Law” — named after a police service dog stabbed to death in October in Edmonton. After the column ran, I got a remarkable message.

Vancouver Police Department Const. Derrick Gibson sent me a note of thanks for the position I was taking. It came from deep within his heart. He told me about his dog Teak and the hard journey they have been through.

Last January, Gibson was a dog handler with the VPD when he responded to call about an armed robbery at a gas station at Fraser Street and Marine Drive. Gibson and his furry partner Teak began tracking a suspect and worked it all the way to 52nd Avenue and Main Street, a distance of more than two kilometres. That, in itself, is remarkable. But Teak was also about to prove to be more than an average dog.

Teak found the suspect and knocked him to the ground. As Gibson and assisting officers moved in to handcuff the suspect, Teak was stabbed in the neck repeatedly.

As I write this, the person charged in connection with this case is about to go on trial for attempted armed robbery and an animal cruelty charge, which is a provincial offence. By definition, the latter is a summary conviction offence, or a lesser crime. For you watchers of American TV, this would be called a misdemeanour.

If convicted of the animal offence, the maximum sentence a person can get is a short jail sentence and a paltry fine. That’s the maximum. Of course, in what passes for the justice system in B.C., the maximum is never handed out.

Teak was rushed to emergency surgery and remarkably survived the vicious attack.

Gibson was then faced with a difficult choice. He could leave the dog section and keep Teak to help him through a long rehab. Or Gibson could give up his partner and get a new dog to start the long process of training to form that special bond between dog and handler.

He did the only thing he could. He could never abandon his partner and so Gibson resigned from the dog section.

“There is not a day goes by that I don’t think about or relive the night that Teak was stabbed,” Gibson told me. “There needs to be a significant consequence when someone harms a police dog.”

Teak still lives with Gibson and his family as the recovery continues. And without a new federal law, justice will not be served for Teak.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com. Comment at Vancouver.24hrs.ca/opinion.


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