Man fights dog, is found guilty of assault

A man has been found guilty of assaulting Victoria police dog Uno in a 2016 incident.

Uno was struck several times in the head and face by the man and his companion. Uno, now retired, recovered in about a month and was able to return to duty.

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The man was also found guilty of possession of a controlled substance, dangerous driving and obstructing a police offer, while the other man involved had already pleaded guilty to similar charges.

The law used in the case was the Justice for Animals in Service Act, or Quanto’s Law. It was inspired by Edmonton police dog Quanto, who served for four years and was involved in more than 100 arrests before being stabbed to death while on duty in 2013.

Victoria police Const. Eric LeQuesne said virtually all handlers have seen their dogs abused.

“I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a dog handler throughout this country, at least in the province and the city here, that hasn’t had an incident where you’ve made the decision to send your dog to apprehend somebody and that person then decides to rain down a bunch of blows into your dog’s face or try to pry their jaws apart or poke them in the eyes or whatever it may be.”

LeQuesne said police dogs, which are considered full-fledged police officers, deserve a high level of protection.

“These dogs give their lives and their working career to protect not only the citizens that we serve but us as handlers.”

He said he doesn’t know of any previous convictions under Quanto’s Law in the Victoria area, and said it is “uncharted territory” as to what the sentence might be.

The man will be sentenced this month.

Before Quanto’s Law, the only way to prosecute abuse of police dogs was through cruelty to animals regulations, LeQuesne said.

He said the Victoria Police Department has five German shepherds and two chocolate Labradors specializing in explosives detection.

Uno was hurt July 6, 2016, after an officer stopped a vehicle with a driver and a passenger at Kingston and Menzies streets.

The officer identified the driver and saw he had drugs in his lap. The man was told to get out of the vehicle, and was in the process of being arrested when he attacked the officer and got back in the driver’s seat.

The officer tried to stop the man from driving away, but was dragged by the vehicle before working himself free.

Another officer arrived, but did not pursue the men through the residential neighbourhood.

Baggies of cocaine and heroin were recovered at the scene.

Soon after, the men were traced to a Quebec Street hotel, where they were encountered in a hallway. They responded by fighting with officers and hitting Uno, who had been released to help in the arrest.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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