Man pleads guilty to animal cruelty in death of Edmonton police dog Quanto
EDMONTON — A man who has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in the death of an Edmonton police dog is to learn his fate on Friday.
Paul Joseph Vukmanich was fleeing from police last October when he repeatedly stabbed the dog named Quanto.
Officers had set the German shepherd loose after Vukmanich crashed a car with stolen plates and ran away on foot.
Vukmanich, who said he was high on drugs at the time, pleaded guilty to a total of six charges, which included animal cruelty and flight from police.
Officers complained after Quanto died that the strongest criminal charge that could be laid was cruelty to an animal.
The federal government said in its fall throne speech that it plans to bring forward “Quanto’s Law” to protect police animals, but didn’t specify what that might entail.
A private member’s bill to amend the Criminal Code to include such a law is also before the House of Commons.
Ontario Conservative MP Costas Menegakis has said his bill was inspired by the hit-and-run death of a Toronto police horse in 2006.
It states that anyone “who knowingly or recklessly poisons, injures or kills a law enforcement animal,” including a horse or a dog, could be subject to a five-year maximum sentence.
It’s the same sentence carried by an animal cruelty charge, but Menegakis said having a separate law for police animals would be a symbolic change.
Alberta’s justice minister has said he supports the bill and that the province is also considering changing its Service Dog Act.
Quanto is the fifth Edmonton police dog to die in the line of duty. The last police dog, named Caesar, was killed in 1998.
In 2006, Edmonton police shot a fleeing suspect four times when he started stabbing a police dog. The animal, named Wizzard, survived.
Kirk Steele also survived being shot by police but doctors had to remove one of his kidneys and an adrenal gland. A judge scolded police for using excessive force but a disciplinary hearing later dismissed a charge of unnecessary use of force against the dog’s handler.