Canada announces greater protection for law enforcement, service and military animals

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with his wife Laureen and Health Minister Rona Ambrose, meet Quanto’s handler Const. Matt Williamson and his new dog Ozzie at the EPS Canine Unit. Harper announced the introduction of Quanto’s Law in Edmonton on Monday May 12, 2014. Photograph by: John Lucas , Edmonton Journal Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the introduction of the Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto’s Law), legislation that would ensure that those who harm law enforcement, service and Canadian Armed Forces animals face serious consequences.

Our Government recognizes the special role that these animals play in protecting our communities and improving the quality of life of Canadians. The proposed legislation is aimed at denouncing and deterring the willful harming of specially trained animals used to help law enforcement officers, persons with disabilities or the Canadian Armed Forces.

The introduction of this legislation fulfills a commitment made by our Government in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to recognize the daily risks taken by police officers and their service animals in their efforts to enforce the law and protect Canadians and communities. The legislation honours Quanto, a police dog who was stabbed to death while helping to apprehend a fleeing suspect in Edmonton, Alberta, in October 2013. Quanto had four years of decorated service and had participated in more than 100 arrests.

Quick Facts

  • The legislation proposes Criminal Code amendments that would create a new offence specifically prohibiting the injuring or killing of animals trained and being used to help law enforcement officers, persons with disabilities or theCanadian Armed Forces.
    • Persons convicted of such an offence could face up to five years’ imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in prison in cases where a law enforcement animal is killed while assisting a law enforcement officer in enforcing the law and the offence is prosecuted by indictment.
    • If a law enforcement officer is assaulted or a law enforcement animal is injured or killed while on duty, the sentence for that offence would be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed on the offender arising out of the same event.
    • The RCMP currently has 157 police service dogs in service across Canada: 135 are general duty profile dogs and 22 are detection profile dogs. They are used to help find lost persons, track criminals, and search for items such as narcotics, explosives and crime scene evidence. In addition to the RCMP, provincial and municipal police services across Canada have integrated police service dogs as part of their everyday service delivery in our communities.
    • Canada Border Services Agency has 53 dog-and-handler teams that help to detect contraband drugs and firearms, undeclared currency, and food, plant and animal products.
    • Correctional Services Canada uses dogs to help stop the flow of illicit drugs and contraband into federal correctional institutions. They have over 100 dog-and-handler teams across Canada.
    • The Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto’s Law) applies to law enforcement animals, service animals and Canadian Armed Forces animals. In practical terms, dogs would be the primary animals protected by this new legislation given they are the animals most often trained and used to assist law enforcement officers and persons with disabilities. However, horses are also used by some police forces. Also other kinds of animals can be trained as service animals to assist people with disabilities. They all would be protected under the Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto’s Law).
    • The development of the Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto’s Law) is part of the Government’s Plan for Safe Streets and Communities. This Plan focuses on tackling crime, enhancing victims’ rights, and ensuring a fair and efficient justice system.

“This legislation also recognizes the vital role that service animals, such as guide dogs, play in helping persons with disabilities benefit from a better quality of life and lead more independent lives. This sends the message that violence against service animals is unacceptable and those who commit such callous acts will pay the consequences.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper