AURORA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 15, 2014) - Department of Justice Canada

Justice Minister Peter MacKay today visited the York Regional Police Canine Unit in Aurora, Ontario, to acknowledge the important role the unit, and others like it, play in protecting Canadian communities.

Police service animals are often at risk of violent assaults, and in fact, a number have been killed in the course of their duties. In May 2014, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to ensure that those who wilfully harm a law enforcement animal face serious consequences.

Quick Facts

  • When the York Regional Police's Canine Unit was formed in 1989, it had three teams comprising a service dog and a handler.

  • Now, with 15 dog-and-handler teams, it is the third largest police canine unit in Ontario.

  • Tracking suspects who have fled on foot; searching for missing persons, evidence or dangerous materials such as explosives; and apprehending criminals are just a few of the ways in which canine units support frontline officers and investigative units.

  • In May 2014, the Government of Canada introduced legislation 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 the Canadian 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 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.

  • This legislation, Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law), honours Quanto, a police dog that 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.


"Police dogs often play a crucial role in the protection of our families and communities. They assist police officers to solve crimes and enforce the law, and their contribution is undeniable. In May 2014, our Government introduced legislation that will take important steps to help protect them from the risks they take daily in the performance of their duties, so they can continue their work, in safety, as key members of our police forces across the country."

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Peter MacKay

"We were pleased to host Peter MacKay, Canada's Minister of Justice and Attorney General and Costas Menegakis, Member of Parliament for Richmond Hill here today at York Regional Police Headquarters and were proud to give both a demonstration of our talented Canine Unit teams. We rely on police service dogs on a daily basis to provide support to our officers in keeping our communities safe. We also support the legislation tabled in May that will protect police service animals like those in our Canine and Ceremonial Mounted Units and look forward to seeing the bill pass when the House of Commons resumes."

Eric Jolliffe, Chief of Police, York Regional Police

"Our Government is committed to protecting police service animals, like Edmonton Police Service Dog Quanto and Toronto Police Service Horse Brigadier, who were killed in the line of duty. In May 2014, we acted on this commitment by introducing Bill C-35, the Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) which will help to protect the animals that work so hard every day to keep us safe."

Member of Parliament for Richmond Hill Costas Menegakis

Associated Links

- PM Harper announces greater protection for law enforcement, service and military animals

- Justice for Animals in Service Act

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Contact Information:

Clarissa Lamb
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice