Heroic Quebec service dogs honoured at special ceremony
Provincial association of small animal veterinarians awarded medals to 2 deserving dogs
Two canine heroes, Kanak and Bouffon, were honoured by a Quebec veterinarian association for their service, Sunday.
Kanak, a three-year-old Labrador Retriever, is Quebec's very first police service dog, providing emotional support for victims of crimes through the Sherbrooke, Que., police department.
Bouffon, a two-year-old Labrador-Mountain Bernese mix, is a service dog who saved his owner from a fire last Thanksgiving.
The two were inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Quebec small animal veterinarian association in Laval.
Kanak has been working with the Sherbrooke police for two years, specializing in comforting minors who have suffered violence or abuse.
His handler, Sergeant Mélanie Bédard, says Kanak's work is not only reassuring and calming to victims, but can also help investigations.
"He brings comfort. He helps children ease up when they have to meet with us," said Bédard. "He's there to be the friend that they need. And he won't judge. He won't criticize. He's there to be petted."
She recalls one instance when a 10-year-old sexual assault victim felt he was able to speak out against his attacker after spending time with Kanak.
"He pet the dog for half an hour, was able to manage his emotions and then tell the story. And the investigator is really convinced that he got more detail because the dog was there present," she said.
Kanak has also received two provincial awards and inspired other forces like the provincial police to use dogs of their own.
While Kanak was being honoured for his professionalism, support dog Bouffon's act of heroism last Thanksgiving was also in the spotlight.
On October 9, a fire broke out at the home of Jacques Millette.
Millette, who is deaf and uses a wheelchair, fell out of his chair trying to put out an accidental fire in his basement.
That's when Bouffon came to the rescue — helping the man drag his way to the elevator and out of danger.
"If it had not been for Bouffon, Mr. Millette would not be here with us today," said Jean Gauvin, president of the veterinarian's association.
With files from Arian Zarrinkoub