A youth accused of stabbing a Calgary police dog during an arrest faces charges under a new section of the criminal code that protects law enforcement animals.
Acting Staff Sgt. James Lines said the dog — named Jester — was stabbed multiple times in the head while trying to catch the youth outside a Calgary school where officers were responding to a break-and-enter early Sunday.
Officers arrested another youth and both face charges connected with the break-in.
Jester was rushed to an emergency veterinary hospital with injuries described as life-threatening, but Acting Staff Sgt. James Lines told a news conference later in the day that the dog had been upgraded to stable and was walking around.
The youth suffered minor bites from the dog, Lines told reporters, but he didn’t have details about those injuries or if the youth was treated in hospital.
“The offender that stabbed the police service dog is going to be charged under the new section of the criminal code, Section 445, which deals with injuring a police animal in the execution of its duties,” Lines said.
The Justice for Animals in Service Act, known as Quanto’s Law, came into force in 2015, named after Edmonton police dog Quanto, who was killed in the line of duty in 2013.
Quanto was stabbed in the RCMP headquarters parking lot while he was helping to catch a fleeing suspect.
Anyone convicted of intentionally killing or maiming a police dog or service animal under the law faces a maximum of five years in prison. If the animal dies, the minimum sentence is six months.
“Police service dogs are used a lot in the execution of our duties. They’re a tool for us, a partner for us and they’re deployed quite often, whether it is during a search or apprehending a suspect,” Lines said.
Jester has been a canine officer for five years, police said.
Lines isn’t sure if he would be able to return to duty.
“The canine handler I know quite well, and he’s taking it pretty hard,” Lines said. “His partner got stabbed.”
“But Jester’s going to be fine.”
The legislation applies to all service animals used in law enforcement, the military and for individuals with disabilities or specific medical needs.
Edmonton police were the first to lay a charge under Quanto’s Law last year when one of their dogs, Jagger, suffered non-life-threatening injuries while apprehending a driver who police said fled on foot after a lengthy vehicle chase.
Lines wouldn’t reveal the ages of the two youths who were arrested early Sunday.
Police say when the suspects fled, Jester was sent after them during the foot chase.
One of the suspects produced a knife and stabbed the dog, police said.
Lines said the suspects had gained entry to the school but he doesn’t know why they were there or what they were doing.
He said the province hasn’t been notified about the bites the youth suffered because the “injuries were minor.”