Calgary, AB,

Calgary's first victim support dog now in his golden years!

Calgary’s first victim assistance dog has hung up his collar and turned in his badge to start his new life of retirement.

Hawk joined our Victim Assistance Response Team in October 2013 after staff on the team learned about the success of two similar dogs in BC and central Alberta. He was raised and trained by the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) in Burnaby, BC, before coming to join our ranks.

Over the course of his career, Hawk was a valuable resource to many of our community partners who work with both children and adults. He supported victims through the Calgary Sexual Assault Response Team, Alberta Children’s Hospital, the Calgary Child Advocacy Centre, Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, and both local school boards.

Hawk was also an integral part of our family at the Calgary Police Service. He supported victims as they told their story to the media at Police Headquarters, supported many of our youth programs and even attended difficult debriefings with our own members after traumatic events.

However, one of the greatest achievements of Hawk’s career remains the successful application put forward by the Crown Prosecution Service, in partnership with us, to have courts recognize victim assistance dogs as an allowable support during witness and victim testimony.

He was the first victim support dog in Canada to be legally recognized, which set a precedent that opened the doors of courtrooms across the country to other support dogs. Since then, Hawk has sat right beside hundreds of children while they shared difficult testimonies, and our two new victim assistance dogs continue to attend over 50 trials each year.

“Hawk has had an exceptional career, but what we are celebrating today is really more than just what he contributed,” said Superintendent Asif Rashid with the Calgary Police Service. “His accomplishments are truly a testament to the vision of the people around him who have worked so hard over the years to get him where he was needed.”

“From his trainers at PADS, to his handlers, to our partners throughout the city, everyone recognized the significant impact a victim assistance dog could have in the lives of hurting people and made sure that kind of compassionate care was available.”

To celebrate all the achievements of the Victim Assistance Support Team over Hawk’s career, a small retirement ceremony was held this morning outside Police Headquarters with representatives from PADS, the Calgary Humane Society, the Crown Prosecution Service and the members of our Service who have worked tirelessly to make the victim assistance dog program what it is today.

The Calgary Humane Society presented Hawk with a medal honouring his significant contributions to people in need of comfort.

“We are honored to be a part of Hawk’s retirement. He certainly fits the bill as an animal hero and is only the third recipient of this distinction since it was developed in 2013,” said Brad Nichols, Director of Operations with the Calgary Humane Society.

“For the countless victims of crime whom Hawk has facilitated journeys through the justice system, we congratulate this incredible dog on his accomplishments and retirement.”

Due to the growing demand for victim assistance dogs, Hawk has now been replaced by two new dogs, Calibri and Webber, who have shown they are up for filling the big paws prints left behind. Hawk spent the last days of his career doing his best to show the new pups how to behave around the office.

Hawk has been adopted by his last handler and will now get to enjoy all the comforts of being a family pet.