A man who killed an Edmonton police dog has been sentenced to 26 months in prison.
Paul Joseph Vukmanich has also been banned from owning a pet for 25 years.
Judge Larry Anderson said Vukmanich didn’t just attack a dog, but attacked society “and what’s meaningful in society.”
The court heard Vukmanich was high on drugs and fleeing from police last fall 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.
Vukmanich, who is 27, pleaded guilty earlier this week to animal cruelty and other offences, including evading police.
He is not getting any credit for time in custody, because he was serving out a prior sentence at the time of the offence. But he will not have to pay restitution to the Edmonton Police Service. The Crown had asked that Vukmanich be ordered to pay $40,000 for the cost of a new dog and its training.
Vukmanich also faces a five-year driving ban once he is released.
The case garnered national attention after police officers complained that the toughest charge that could be laid was animal cruelty.
“This case seems to have struck a public never,” Anderson said as he gave his decision Friday.
The federal government signalled in the speech from the throne in October that it would create new legislation to protect animals that work with police and call it Quanto’s Law. But it didn’t specify what the law would entail.
“Our government recognizes and respects the daily risks taken by police officers and their service animals,” Paloma Aguilar, press secretary for Justice Minister Peter MacKay, said in an e-mail.
She said more details of the law will be revealed in “due course.”
Quanto was the fifth Edmonton police dog to die in the line of duty.
Court heard that Vukmanich was on parole and high on cocaine and methamphetamine when police tried to pull him over on Oct. 7. He sped over a median and several curbs, blowing out three tires, before abandoning the car in a parking lot. He then took off on foot.
When he refused to stop, Quanto was deployed.
The dog bit Vukmanich on the arm and hand. Vukmanich then stabbed the animal several times in the chest.
Constable Matt Williamson carried his bleeding dog to an emergency veterinarian but he couldn’t be saved.
The officer told court in his victim impact statement that although Quanto lived with his family, the dog’s primary role was as his protector, a role the animal fearlessly fulfilled.
However, Williamson said, Quanto’s death has had a profound effect on the officer’s six-year-old daughter, who came to him crying one day with a question: “If Quanto’s job was to protect you from bad guys … is a bad guy going to kill you?”
Williamson said the little girl never lets him leave for work now without giving him a hug first.
Williamson is to start training a new dog and will rejoin the canine unit in the spring.
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