Jester, a Calgary police dog that touched the hearts of many after being stabbed in the head multiple times during a pursuit, is back to work.
"He went through a number of different tests, multiple veterinarians, health checks, certifications. We really went above and beyond what we needed to do, but we wanted to ensure that he was out of the woods."
Jester reported to work Tuesday evening for the first time, post recovery.
The German Shepherd with five years of experience on the force was left with multiple stab wounds to the head after pursuing two suspects, both minors, while responding to reports of a break-and-enter near Grant MacEwan School early in the morning of July 30.
"It was a traumatic event that he went through six-and-a-half weeks ago and sustained some pretty serious injuries that we originally thought were life-threatening," Gourley explained.
"Fortunately we had phenomenal care by veterinarians and after ensuring that Jester was both physically and mentally ready to return to work he returned for his first shift Tuesday night."
'Raring to go'
Gourley said Jester was raring to go.
"Similar to an athlete who sustains an injury, [who] would be just itching to get back to their chosen sport, we saw that right from the get go, that Jester was extremely excited once he started to heal physically. He was ready to come back to work but we certainly weren't going to rush it."
The excitement of Jester's recovery was only matched by the public's response to the incident, the sergeant said.
"The public was fantastic," Gourley said, pausing a little.
"The handler wants to convey, the support that we received for Jester was just outstanding. A huge thank you to all the citizens. The amount of care packages, the amount of social media level of support towards Jester and the entire service, it was just outstanding," he said.
"We have no reason to believe that he won't continue to be a police dog until it is time for him to retire and enjoy a nice retirement."
A 14-year-old was charged with maiming a police animal after the incident. It marks the first time the Calgary Police Service has laid a charge under legislation designed to protect police animals known as Quanto's Law, which came into effect in July 2015. The legislation was named after an Edmonton police dog killed on the job.
The teen is back in court later this month. Another 15-year-old suspect has also been charged with break and enter. They cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.