The Canadian Press

Edmonton police have unveiled a memorial for canine officers that have been killed in the line of duty.

The statue of a shepherd-style dog will honour five members of the canine unit, including Caesar, a five-year veteran of the force shot by a suicidal man who had a shotgun near a schoolyard.

Caesar’s handler, Sgt. Randy Goss, says his partner was a streetwise, strong, working dog.

He says losing Caesar was emotionally hard and he struggled Friday to put into words the feelings he had seeing the tribute to “these valuable, loyal dogs that have given everything they’ve got for us.”

Other dogs honoured in the memorial include Brix, struck by a police vehicle that was pursuing a suspect; Titus, hit by a car while chasing an armed robbery suspect; and Arry, killed when he jumped over a three-foot wall in search of robbery suspects.

The most recent loss came on Oct. 7, 2013, when police dog Quanto was fatally stabbed by a suspect.

His death led to the implementation of Quanto’s Law, new federal legislation that means anyone convicted of intentionally killing a service animal can now face up to five years in jail.

Before then, animal cruelty was the strictest possible charge for people who killed or hurt police dogs, horses, and other service animals.

The EPS Canine Unit started 48 years ago, with a small team of three handlers and dogs, the unit has grown to fifteen handlers and dogs.

“Like their human handlers, they are also highly trained and exhibit the same bravery, commitment to duty and dedication,” EPS Chief Rod Knecht said. “They also face the same dangers in carrying out their duties.”

Staff Sgt. Troy Carriere, with the EPS Canine Unit, called the animals vital tools to police officers in the field.

“They are a tool, that’s what we train them for regardless of the bond that we have,” Carriere said. “I think if you talk to most handlers again, past and present, they’ll tell you that their service dog has saved them from, you know, serious injuries, and who knows what else.”

The monument cost $40,000, and it was paid for by donations. It is located at the Vallevand Kennels, a private EPS facility.