A Calgary family is calling for a police dog to be euthanized after the off-duty animal escaped a yard and attacked a child.
Twelve-year-old Ali Hassan was playing in the street in front of his family's southwest Calgary home on Wednesday when a large dog charged towards him.
“It was my instinct to run away because when he came up and I got very scared so I just started running and when I looked behind me and he started sprinting towards me," Hassan told Metro News.
He made it inside, but the dog followed and bit into his thigh. Hassan's grandparents and mother tried to pull the canine off, but he wouldn't let go.
"It was my instinct to run away."
Ali's father Mustafa Hassan heard the commotion from upstairs. He rushed to the kitchen and punched the dog several times in the side until his son was finally released.
It wasn't until after the dog's handler arrival that the family realized the canine was an off-duty police dog. Ali was later taken to the Alberta Children's Hospital by paramedics.
Hassan required stitches for the deep puncture wounds in his legs, and is now relying on crutches to get around.
— Gary Bobrovitz (@garybtvnews) April 1, 2016
"The incident broke the safety of the neighbourhood and that is what we don't like," said Mustafa told The Canadian Press.
Dog's fate depends on investigation
The dog, Marco, is being held in a kennel until the police can investigate the situation. Police are waiting for the dog to calm down after the high-stress incident before launching an investigation.
A review of the canine unit's policies is also being conducted.
Calgary police Chief Roger Chaffin said in a press conference that it's unlikely the young dog will be euthanized.
"This is a rare occurence," Chaffin said. "All of our handlers have families and these dogs co-exist with children."
"I don't know what's behind this."
— Helen Pike (@Metropike) March 31, 2016
Marco, a Belgian Malinois, had been with the police service and his handler for about a year. The dog participated in tactical work around the city, according to Chaffin.
The dog could be returned to his handler, moved to another jurisdiction, or possibly put down, depending on the investigation's results.
Police dogs are trained to take down criminals by biting. It's a possibility the dog may have considered Hassan a target once he started running.
"That’s the only way a police dog can arrest somebody. They don’t have hands to put handcuffs on them, so they use their mouths to bite,” said Sgt. Jason Gunderson, president of the Canadian Police Canine Association, in an interview with The Calgary Herald.
A police dog undergoes training. (Photo: Canadian Police Canine Association)
Hassan's family says the 12-year-old is experiencing nightmares and they're considering taking legal action.
They have also asked the police service to euthanize the dog, according to CTV News.
"I need to make everybody aware that this has happened and it could happen to somebody else with much, much worse results," Mustafa told CBC News.
With files from The Canadian Press
Also on HuffPost:
The Edmonton Police Service Canine Unit was formed in 1967, with just three teams. Currently, there are 12 handler and dog teams. Maverick (pictured), one of Edmonton's police service dogs (PSDs) won 2015's Canadian Police Canine Association competition. These teams are committed to taking a "bite out of crime" in Edmonton.
PSD Xeiko (Cst. Jason Born)