The Winnipeg Police Service is honouring the legacy of their police dogs by creating a permanent display.

Constable Dani McKinnon, a Public Information Officer with the Winnipeg Police Service, says that they will be breaking ground on a new addition to the Winnipeg Police Canine Unit Building, the Canine Memorial.

Constable Justin Casavant says when he first joined the Canine Unit, he was partnered with Police Service Dog Banner who was known for specializing in tracking and tactical support work. 

casavantConstable Casavant is hopeful that a new memorial will help people honour the work of police dogs. (Screenshot: WPS/Facebook)

In December of 2019, Casavant woke up from their night shift together, finding Banner ill. He needed to be put down due to his aggressive cancer. When Banner died, officers surrounded the veterinary hospital, sobbing at the loss. Casavant did not know he was sick, as Banner did not show signs of his illness despite doing difficult police work. Over the course of his life, Banner made more than 200 tracking arrests.

"I am very thankful that he is going to have a home, but for all the dogs that came before him for all the dogs that came after him, this is somewhere the handlers can remember him and somewhere the public will have access to be able to come and visit the site."

Casavant says all police dogs deserve to be remembered. 

The Canine Memorial will be paid for completely through donations from the public. For the past two years, the service has been collecting funds from its dog calendars. The second phase of the fundraising is launching Wednesday with memory stones.

These stones are set to line the walkway leading up to the memorial.

Police Service Dogs endure difficult work and are appreciated by the service. The memorial is set to honour the work of dogs past, including efforts identifying suspects hiding from the police or tracking down people who have fleed from a crime scene.

"We want to give the opportunity to the public to be part of this legacy," McKinnon says.

Ground will break for the memorial by the end of the summer. It is set to be unveiled in the fall.