Celebrating Lifesaving Police Dog
A police dog who saved the lives of fellow officers was honoured by hundreds of law enforcement members, including 75 Police K-9 teams from across the province who lined a procession route.
Police Service Dog Bingo, who was fatally shot while searching for a murder suspect on July 25, was remembered for being a loyal and brave partner to Sergeant Brandon Smith – both in their first year as a canine team.
Mayor Olivia Chow said the bond between a police dog and handler is one we can never really know.
“Many of us know the deep connection we feel with the animals in our lives. The loyalty, the security, the unconditional love we feel when we come at the end of a long day,” she said at a Celebration of Life held at the Woodbine Banquet Centre on September 22. “Now imagine that animal as your partner, facing danger together, serving together, being with your family together. You live together and share a commitment to keep people safe day in and day out. That’s a connection few of us will ever know.”
“To serve one’s city, to serve each other is all our highest calling. While today we mourn Bingo, Bingo’s death in the line of duty, may we honour the commitment to service that his sacrifice represents. Thank you all for your service to our city.”
Toronto Police Services Board Vice-Chair Lisa Kostakis said Bingo exemplifies the service, sacrifice and bravery of the law enforcement community.
“His unwavering commitment to protect and serve and his profound loyalty will forever resonate in our hearts. Bingo demonstrated the very best qualities of our law enforcement community: courage, integrity and selflessness.”
The two-year-old German Shepherd arrived to the unit in July 2022 and was paired immediately with Smith for the 16 weeks of training needed to prepare for the work ahead.
Chief Myron Demkiw said police officers form incredible bonds with their partners because of the incredible amount of time they spend together – it is even more extraordinary with a canine partner.
“They trained together, they worked together and they lived together always had each other’s back. They both did everything they could possibly do to keep each other safe,” Demkiw said. “Bingo loved his job and Bingo loved his partner,” Demkiw said.
He thanked the Smith family for embracing Bingo.
“Thank you for welcoming Bingo into your loving home with open arms, thank you for caring for him when he was a puppy and thank you for loving him as much as you did. You raised an extraordinary dog who was taken from you far too soon.”
Specialized Emergency Response Superintendent Colin Greenaway said the loss of Bingo reminds everyone of the danger inherent in policing.
At the Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial Service to be held Sunday September 24, on Parliament Hill, 11 police officers, including Toronto Constable Andrew Hong, will be remembered for their sacrifice in the line of duty.
“It’s a stark reminder of the dangers that both police officers and their canine companions expose themselves to each and every day.”
He thanked all those who helped out on the night of Bingo’s death including members of 23 Division, the Public Safety Response Team and Communications Services. He also thanked those who checked on fellow officers’ wellness in the following days.
A total of 75 police K-9 teams lined the procession route before the Celebration of Life.
Emergency Task Force Team 6 members, including a tactical paramedic, joined Sergeant Brandon Smith and his wife Heather in the procession before the ceremony. They were part of the team of officers searching for the murder suspect on the night Bingo died.
Sgt. Brandon Smith with his wife, Heather, thanked everyone for the outpouring of support.
The 24-year policing veteran said he finally found his purpose in policing when he was paired up with Bingo.
“I had pets all my life and never thought I could have a stronger connection,” he said, unsure of truly how close he would become with his K-9 partner. “To be successful, a canine handler needs their dog and their dog needs their handler.”
He noted a case where Bingo found a firearm stashed under a wooden palette, demonstrating the value that police dogs bring to the city each day.
He said Bingo’s final act as a police dog on July 25 was a heroic one – saving the lives of police officers.
“Fortunately for myself and the two ETF officers Bingo was the first to locate the suspect that we were not able to see. Bingo did not get a chance to bark before he was shot. Bingo without a doubt saved our lives,” Smith said. “I truly believe that if it were not for Bingo I would not be standing here with my family in front of you all. I will never be able to say thank you to Bingo and that is the thing I struggle with most of all. I miss you partner, you will forever be my hero.”