Toronto Police Service spending on fallen K9 funeral raises eyebrows

A lengthy motorcade consisting of Toronto Police Service (TPS) vehicles passed through downtown Toronto on the morning of July 27 as a tribute of honour to their fallen service dog Bingo, who had tragically been killed in the line of duty.

On July 25 at approximately 8:40 p.m., Sgt. Brandon Smith and his K9, Bingo, of Police Dog Services were searching for a reported armed suspect in the vicinity of Kipling Avenue and Dixon Road in Toronto, according to a media release.

Police allege that officers and the suspect had an interaction and Bingo was tragically shot and killed.

The suspect was shot by police and transported to hospital, and currently is in custody.

“As an animal lover, I was very saddened to learn about the passing of Bingo, a Toronto Police K9 dog who was killed in the line of duty while keeping his handler and other officers safe yesterday,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said after news of Bingo’s death broke.

K9 Bingo and Sgt. Smith

K9 Bingo and Sgt. Smith

Toronto police held large procession for fallen K9

A media release shared by TPS alerted the public that the force would be holding a procession as a means of honouring their fallen service member.

Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw called the service dog’s death senseless and tragic while highlighting the critical role K9’s play on the police force.

“They provide an additional resource to our members to help keep communities safe, whether it is tracking a suspect, apprehending violent suspects or tracking and locating evidence, some of which is incredibly dangerous,” Demkiew said in a statement.

Bingo was known as a high-energy dog who bonded well with his partner in the short time they were together, said Staff Sergeant Eric Hembruff in a statement. “He has had a few successes in his seven months and was very good at his job. He made the ultimate sacrifice, taking a bullet that might have been meant for one of our officers.”

“It was unnecessary and absolutely heartbreaking for the handler and the entire Service,” added Superintendent Colin Greenaway, the Police Dog Services Unit Commander.

The procession, made up of Police Dog Services, the Emergency Task Force and and the Motor Squad departed from the Emergency Veterinary Clinic and proceeded to Guelph University for end of life veterinary services.

Video captured of the procession shows a long line of Toronto Police Service vehicles with amber lights flashing proceeding through downtown Toronto.

A heart-rending video posted from outside the Toronto police headquarters showed the moment Bingo’s lifeless body was carried out of the detachment on a tiny stretcher.

While the public outpouring of support for Toronto Police Service and the loss of their service dog was evident, advocacy groups were quick to point out the significant cost coming from taxpayer’s pockets for the fallen K9.

The scale of public resources utilized in the wake of Bingo’s passing raised some eyebrows of the public — including that of social advocacy group On Canada Project, who took to Instagram to share their take on the extent TPS went to to honour their fallen service dog.

In a series of slides posted to the social platform, On Canada Project questions why an institution “would spend taxpayer dollars to make a huge song and dance around honouring a dog while that same institution routinely FAILS to honour the human rights of Black, Indigenous, low-income folks and other people from marginalized communities.”

The organization also highlighted questions from the public, all of whom wondered what the bill of the “copaganda circus” would cost for taxpayers while unhoused people and refugees lined the streets in tents just several blocks away.

While police hailed the fallen K9 as a hero, the post by On Canada Project shared a counter perspective: “This dog is not a noble warrior. He died because humans care more about sustaining violent carceral systems than they care about the welfare of the community around them.”

No figure has yet been made public on how much Bingo’s funeral and procession cost taxpayers.

Public reaction to Bingo’s funeral: ‘Performative’ or a heroic honour?

A string of social media posts following the death of TPS K9 Bingo paint a picture of varied responses from some hailing the service dog as a hero, while others pointed to the cost the pageantry would leave taxpayers pulling from their pockets.

Author Piers Hemmingsen praised the dog’s heroic actions and shared how the dog’s passing in line of duty deeply resonated with him.

Another social media user criticized the pompous ceremony calling it a “performative joke.”

Another animal lover pointed to the lack of consent animals are able to offer when joining the force in a K9 capacity.

Another user was quick to point out the cost of training a K9, and questioned if the officers that showed up to mourn the loss of the dog were receiving public tax dollars.

Another social media user called the show of honour “outrageous and unacceptable” at a time public resources are disproportionately accessible.

While the reaction to Bingo’s death was mixed, a loss is a loss to most, and Bingo’s sacrifice, as well as the well-being of his handlers are top of mind.

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