Service dogs deserve unconditional support
Thursday, May 29, 2014 12:28 pm
In early October, a 27-year convict – out on parole – got high on cocaine and meth.
Behind the wheel of a car with stolen plates, he fled from police pursuit, jumping several curbs and crossing a median. Sparks flew and he blew out three of his tires. Abandoning his vehicle, the suspect bolted on foot.
Cst. Matt Williamson, with his trusty police dog Quanto, jumped into action. When Williamson’s warnings went ignored, Quanto was dispatched to secure the suspect.
Rather than back down, the suspect came up with a knife and viciously attacked the dog.
Williamson brandished his firearm, and the suspect dropped his weapon.
The arrest was made, but at great cost. Williamson rushed to Quanto’s aid, but the four-legged officer of the law did not survive.
This sad scene may seem reminiscent of a Hollywood motion picture. But this was no movie. No animals are harmed in the making of films. At the time of Quanto’s passing, he had four years of decorated service and had participated in more than 100 arrests.
The suspect in this case pleaded guilty to six charges, including animal cruelty.
Even before this case made it to court, Canadians expressed their justifiable outrage online, to the media, and through correspondence with elected officials like myself.
The message was clear: We must denounce this injustice and take steps to deter such crime in the future.
On May 12, Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced new legislation, the Justice for Animals in Service Act, which will also be known as Quanto’s Law.
It will create a new offence specifically designed to protect animals trained to help law enforcement officers, persons with disabilities, and the Canadian Armed Forces.
Those convicted of such crimes could face up to five years’ imprisonment. In addition there will be a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in cases where a law enforcement animal like Quanto is killed.
This is important, the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and Correctional Services Canada currently have hundreds of dog-and-handler teams on duty across our country.
In a court statement, Williamson wrote that he never questioned Quanto’s commitment to serving above and beyond the call of duty.
He said, “I always knew if it was him or me, it would be him. Quanto died well and proved his fearlessness.”
Clearly, these animals’ commitment to us is absolute. I believe they deserve the same from us, and I am proud to support Quanto’s Law.