By Angela Hall,
Leader-Post, November 22, 2010
Legislation proposed by Saskatoon Centre NDP MLA David Forbes would, if passed, make it an offence to interfere with a service animal.
Stephen Kaye once worked with a police dog who died while trying to disarm and subdue a subject.
At the legislature Monday, Kaye watched with approval as a private member’s bill that aims to better protect service animals and police dogs came
The legislation proposed by Saskatoon Centre NDP MLA David Forbes would, if passed, make it an offence to interfere with a service animal.
“I think it’s an important bill,” said Kaye, who heads the Saskatoon Police Service’s canine unit and is president of the Canadian Police Canine
“It would provide for additional penalties for anyone who basically puts hands on a law enforcement animal,” Kaye told reporters.
“Our hope is that there would be some deterrent value and it would make it safer for our dogs and safer for us to serve the communities we’re
While charges related to animal abuse can already be laid under the Criminal Code or the province’s Animal Protection Act, Forbes said his bill allows
for additional penalties with steps such as compensation orders.
Current animal protection laws don’t address the “unique circumstances” involved in working with or caring for a service animal, he said.
Sask. Party Justice Minister Don Morgan said he’s not sure if the bill is needed given the protection that’s already available in law, including
compensation that can be sought through civil action. He also noted that
government is in the process of increasing fines under the Animal Protection Act.
But he said officials are reviewing the private member’s bill to see if it could be beneficial.
The Opposition said the proposed legislation would mirror what’s already in place in Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba, where the law was prompted by a dog attack on a guide dog belonging to a visually impaired woman. The
guide dog had to be taken for costly retraining as a result of the incident.
Robin East, who was joined at the legislature by his guide dog Seinfeld, said this is the kind of law he wants to see in Saskatchewan.
“Right now if I walk down the street and there’s any loose dogs out and about they’re circling my dog and nipping at his heels as a blind person I
have no way to protect myself or my dog,” said East, who lives in Saskatoon.
“This legislation will allow me to be able to, if my dog gets hurt or damaged in any way or needs to be retained, I can get redress.”