Dozens of Edmontonians braved the cold Sunday morning for the chance to meet a police dog up close.

The EPS Canine Unit organized the event as a public thank you after officers received an outpouring of support following the death of police dog Quanto on Oct. 7.

Staff Sgt. Troy Carriere called the community's response "astonishing."

“Quanto’s passing has certainly struck a chord with everyone and this is not lost on anyone associated with this tragic event,” he said.

Several of the city’s 12 canine unit teams were on hand to meet and greet people, and to show off some of their training.

“Today you’re going to see a little bit of protection work, a little obedience and a little bit of narcotic search,” Carriere told the gathered crowd amidst whines and barks from several police dogs.

Moments later, the crowd cheered as they watched one of the police dogs chase down a fleeing "suspect" in the first of the canine unit demonstrations.

In a second demonstration, another dog pulled a "suspect" from his car, dragging him towards the waiting officer.

  

Quanto’s Law

Quanto’s death inspired a renewed call to update legislation, which would make it illegal to hurt or kill police animals.

“The members of the canine unit are out every night to protect and serve the citizens of Edmonton, putting their life on the line to protect everybody,” said Staff Sgt. Troy Carriere.

“The new legislation that is being supported through the government is huge for us as well  not just for us, but for all law enforcement agencies across the country.”

EPS police dogs start training when they are about 8 weeks old, he said, and continue training through until they are about 18 months old.

Each dog then has to complete an intensive, full-time specialized training course for an additional four months before they go into active service.

Even then, the learning curve is steep, said Carriere. Most dogs really peak when they are four or five years old the age Quanto was when he died.

In addition to time, Carriere said training a successful police dog takes an incredible amount of investment on the part of the dog’s handler.

“You really do have to have a passion for it,” he said, noting that it takes hours and hours of time spent working with the dogs at home as well as in the office.

As a result, the bond between dog and handler is enormous, he said.

Police dog Quanto

Police service dog Quanto was stabbed to death in October 2013. (Edmonton Police Service)

Replacing Quanto

Carriere said EPS has started evaluating some of the 18-month-old trained dogs to choose a replacement for Quanto.

Quanto’s trainer Matt Williamson has been involved in the selection process, he said.

Asked whether there were any future EPS canine handlers in the crowd today, Carriere said it was likely.

“I can honestly say that for a lot of our teams that I deploy on the street, a lot of them had a handler … come to their school, to an event where they performed a demo and took time to talk to the kids -- and that encouraged them to be a police officer … and canine handler.”

“That shows you the passion our teams have,” he said.