Two years ago today, Canada’s Criminal Code was amended to make the harming or killing of police, military or other service animals a special offence. Called the Justice for Animals in Service Act, this piece of legislation is better known as Quanto’s Law.
The law’s more common name is a memorial to Police Dog Quanto, a German shepherd with four years of service and more than 100 arrests to his name who was killed on the job in Edmonton in 2013. Quanto took risks on the job every day and, sadly, paid the ultimate price while protecting his community.
Paul Vukmanich, who killed Police Dog Quanto, was sentenced to 26 months in prison after pleading guilty to six charges in court, including one charge for killing the dog. But the short prison sentence was controversial and sparked a nationwide conversation about the need for a specific law to address service animal cruelty.
Humane Canada was proud to take a lead role in advocating for this law, and we’ve already seen charges being brought forward to discourage the assault and murder of service animals in Canada.
The first-ever charges were laid under Quanto’s Law in November 2015 after Police Dog Lonca was stabbed with a machete during a raid on a suspected illegal gaming house in a Toronto-area home. Then, in August 2016, officers from the Edmonton Police Service – where Quanto worked – laid a second charge after Police Dog Jagger was struck in the face several times by a man who evaded police in a high-speed chase for more than an hour. Both dogs have made a full recovery, and both suspects were apprehended. The first case has ended in acquittal, and the second is winding its way through the courts.
While police dogs clearly need our protection, this legislation was enacted to protect all service animals against the mistreatment and aggression they face while on the job. It’s not uncommon for guide dogs, medical alert animals and emotional support animals to be harassed and sometimes even assaulted by members of the public who don’t understand, value or respect the work that the animal is doing. These highly-trained, sensitive and intelligent animals have important jobs, and they deserve better than being subjected to this kind of abuse.
Quanto’s Law represents an important step forward for animal protection in Canada. But all of Canada’s animals deserve much better protection than our current federal laws afford.
As a next step, it’s crucial that we bring forward updates to Canada’s archaic federal laws, which make it so difficult to prosecute animal cruelty that they leave animals high and dry when they need our protection the most.
Do you want better laws for Canada’s animals? You can make a difference! Reach out to your MP today and tell them you support an immediate update to our federal animal cruelty provisions.
Learn more about the fight for improved federal legislation here.