EDMONTON - Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in the Alberta capital on Monday to meet with police canine units and to announce the introduction of new legislation dubbed Quanto's Law.
The proposed Justice for Animals in Service Act calls for tougher penalties for anyone who harms a service animal, including those working for police and the military.
Quanto was an Edmonton police dog stabbed to death while trying to apprehend a fleeing suspect last October.
"These service animals are not pets. They are important investments that police services and others make in animals that perform very specialized duties," Harper said at a photo opportunity.
"Tens of thousands of dollars of training go into animals like this and when they are attacked, as of course the late Quanto was, not only is that the loss of a considerable asset for a police service, it also is a wider attack on the police services that protect us."
Harper did not take any questions from reporters.
The legislation, promised in the 2013 throne speech, proposes Criminal Code amendments to impose a minimum six-month jail sentence for anyone who kills a police dog. The maximum sentence would be five years.
Quanto's killer, Paul Joseph Vukmanich, pleaded guilty earlier this year to animal cruelty and other offences, including evading police. He was sentenced to 26 months in prison and banned from owning a pet for 25 years.
Court heard that Vukmanich, then 27, was high on drugs and fleeing from police when he repeatedly stabbed the dog named Quanto.
Officers had set the German shepherd loose after Vukmanich was caught driving a car with stolen plates and ran away on foot.
Edmonton police canine unit Staff Sgt. Trevor Hermanutz said officers are pleased with the law.
"We know that now we have a law that is going to put some teeth to the matter — the fact that when people want to injure or kill law enforcement animals, there are some serious legal consequences to their actions," Hermanutz said.
"We're proud to see that happen."
— With files from CHED