Officers call for stronger laws to protect police dogs after K9 killed

EDMONTON — Edmonton police say there needs to be a special criminal law to protect animals that work with officers after one of their service dogs was killed by a fleeing suspect.

EDMONTON — Edmonton police say there needs to be a special criminal law to protect animals that work with officers after one of their service dogs was killed by a fleeing suspect.

Police say Quanto, a German shepherd with four years of decorated service and more than 100 arrests to his name, was stabbed repeatedly Monday as he and his handler, Const. Matt Williamson, tried to take down a man who had fled a car with stolen plates.

Paul Joseph Vukmavich, 27, faces charges including possession of stolen property, dangerous driving, criminal flight and resisting arrest.

But when it comes to the death of the dog, Troy Carriere, acting staff-sergeant of the Edmonton police canine unit, said cruelty to an animal is the strongest charge that can be laid.

“It’s been our intent to have that changed,” Carriere said. “We need to adjust the Criminal Code at some point in time and this is obviously a good time to do that.”

Sgt. Murray Pollock, head of the Calgary police canine unit and a director with the Canadian Police Canine Association, said the protection of police dogs in the Criminal Code is an issue officers have wanted to see addressed for quite some time.

Some provinces have laws protecting services dogs.

A section of Saskatchewan’s Animal Protection Act, for example, carries a penalty of up to two years in jail for anyone who harms a service dog, which includes dogs working with police.

Penalties for animal cruelty in the Criminal Code were recently increased, with the maximum sentence being five years behind bars.

But Pollock said a Criminal Code section dealing with service dogs, which would be applicable across Canada, would make for a much stronger deterrent.

“Absolutely. That’s where we would like to go,” he said.

“In a case like Edmonton today, they would be facing the most serious of charges, not dissimilar to assaulting a police office — it’s what we would like to see. We believe strongly that our dogs are police officers.”

A private member’s bill proposing an amendment to the Criminal Code was introduced by Ontario Conservative MP Costas Menegakis earlier this year. It says anyone “who knowingly or recklessly poisons, injures or kills a law enforcement animal,” including a horse or dog, could be subject to the same five-year maximum sentence.

“We are aware of a Conservative private member’s bill being proposed on this topic and I’m personally very supportive and look forward to more discussion on this issue,” federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay said in an email Monday.

Williamson and Quanto were called to a report of a stolen vehicle shortly after 5 a.m. The vehicle fled, but quickly crashed into the median in front of a gas station near the city’s downtown.

Police said the driver ran. Quanto was sent after him and was stabbed.

Williamson rushed the dog to the emergency veterinary clinic where the animal was pronounced dead. The suspect dropped the knife when other officers arrived and he was arrested.

Police said Vukmavich was already wanted on charges of armed robbery in both Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, Ont.

Quanto is the fifth Edmonton police dog to die in the line of duty. A police dog named Caesar was the last animal killed in 1998.

In 2010, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin scolded Edmonton police for using excessive force when they shot a man, Kirk Steele, four times after he stabbed a police dog.

Macklin called the shooting “an unconscionable use of excessive and aggressive force in the circumstances.”

Both Steele and the dog, Wizzard, survived and a disciplinary charge of unnecessary use of force against the handler, Staff-Sgt. Bruce Edwards, was dismissed.

Quanto, who placed third in a recent Canadian Police Canine Association competition in Regina, did what he was supposed to do Monday morning, Carrier said.

“There’s no question that had he not been deployed to apprehend this subject, who was highly motivated to get away, we most likely would have seen one of our own members hurt or killed,” Carriere said.

“He made the ultimate sacrifice. That was his job and he did it well.”

Just Posted

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec premier argues province has power to amend constitution in letter to Trudeau

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault has written a letter to Prime… Continue reading

A demonstrator stands in front of riot police officers during a banned protest in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Saturday, May, 15, 2021. Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris where riot police countered organizers who said they would defy a ban on the protest, ordered on the grounds that it risked turning violent. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French riot police fired tear gas and used water… Continue reading

Photo by The Associated Press
NYC Pride parade bans police; Gay officers ‘disheartened’

NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of New York City’s Pride events said… Continue reading

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Most Read