Specific Protection For Law Enforcement Animals
The Provincial Animal Welfare Act, which amends the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) Act, includes a specific offence for causing harm to a law enforcement animal. This measure is the first of its kind in Canada and helps make the OSPCA Act the strongest animal welfare legislation in the country.
The inclusion of the new provincial offence for causing harm to law enforcement service animals follows the 2006 death of Brigadier, a horse of the famed Mounted Unit of the Toronto Police Service (TPS).
A Belgian crossbreed, Brigadier had served in the TPS's Mounted Unit since 2001. In February 2006, as Toronto police officers approached a driver behaving strangely, the man sped away, made a U-turn and drove into Brigadier and his rider. The driver then returned and hit the seven-year-old horse a second time before taking off again.
The horse was injured so badly that he had to be put down. His rider suffered broken ribs and injuries to his neck, back and leg.
A memorial was organized soon after the death of Brigadier. Hundreds attended the event including the then minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the mayor of Toronto and the chief of the TPS.
"The circumstances in which Brigadier died were very difficult for the members of the Toronto Police Service, in particular for our unit. The new legislation sends a very clear message about the enormous importance of law enforcement animals."
- Head of the TPS Mounted Unit Staff Inspector Bill Wardle
"Our canine units' handlers and dogs play a critical role in fulfilling our mandate across Ontario. I am pleased to see that all law enforcement animals will be recognized by this legislation and afforded the protection they deserve."
- Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino
Law Enforcement Service Animals In Ontario
There are over 300 animals involved in law enforcement in the province. Dogs are used by municipal police services and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in a variety of roles: explosives and firearms detection; search and rescue; and for sniffing drugs. Some are even trained to detect currency being illegally carried out of the country at airports.
The TPS's Mounted Unit has 28 horses that help maintain order, conduct regular patrols on city streets and take part in search and rescue operations in areas difficult to access by car or on foot. The Niagara Regional Police Service and the OPP also have small mounted units.