Police in Calgary say an officer seen on video kicking a police service dog regrets his actions but was doing so to quiet the animal during a high-risk arrest.
A 20-second video of the single kick aimed at the barking dog was taken from someone’s window and posted online. It led to several complaints to the Calgary Police Service.
Supt. Ryan Ayliffe said the kick is not an accepted or standard part of training and the officer’s action is under review.
“None of us like the look of that video. None of us wanted this to happen and we acknowledge this is not an acceptable way to correct dog behaviour. We don’t condone it,” Ayliffe told a news conference Thursday.
“But there are a number of things that add context there that mitigate some of the intent because there was no intent to hurt this animal.”
Ayliffe said the officer and the dog were part of a Wednesday night arrest in a firearms investigation, and the dog’s constant barking put others at risk.
“The intent was to silence the police service dog because the noise that he was creating was presenting an immediate officer safety concern,” he said.
“In the heat of the moment … this officer was balancing extreme cold, an inside containment point, protecting the other officers around them from exposure to potential risk.”
Ayliffe said the officer has been on the job for six years and took immediate responsibility for his actions. He and his canine partner are still on the job.
He said action will be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again in the Calgary Police Service.
A national animal rights group has called on the Calgary Humane Society and the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team to investigate.
“It’s a criminal offence to cause pain or suffering to an animal, and police don’t get a free pass for animal abuse,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice.
“Dogs used in police K-9 units are already unfairly put at risk by being forced into dangerous situations, and it is absolutely unconscionable that they should be put at further risk of abuse by police officers themselves.”
Labchuk added that the federal government amended Criminal Code animal cruelty provisions in 2015 to create more severe punishments for injuring an animal used in law enforcement.
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