A Winnipeg student is recovering after being bitten by a police dog during a visit to an elementary classroom.

Both the Winnipeg Police Service and Louis Riel School Division confirmed an incident unfolded at Samuel Burland School Wednesday morning.

Members of the police K9 unit were at the K-8 building for a classroom visit, they said.

“The child was bitten by the police dog. The incident is being investigated by the (police) and by the school division,” principal Ross Cathers wrote in a letter to families at the school in River Park South.

Cathers said the school immediately called emergency services and the parents of the injured student, who was given medical care on-site.

In consultation with the family, the student was taken to hospital as a precaution, he said.

Police said in a news release the animal is “a single-purpose drug-detection dog,” and hasn’t been trained for aggression or apprehension.

The dog has been suspended from police work and an investigation is underway, police said.

Const. Jay Murray, a public information officer, declined to answer whether the animal was wearing a muzzle, if students are allowed to interact with police dogs, and other questions about the event.

“I don’t have further information to provide,” Murray wrote in an email.

The police service typically recruits Belgian Malinois, a breed with a reputation as a versatile species with a good work ethic, German shepherds and Labrador retrievers. WPS is one of few agencies in Canada that operates its own breeding program.

Winnipeg has 10 different K9 teams that provide 24-hour coverage across the city throughout any given week.

These service dogs are called upon to track suspects, search buildings, find evidence and locate missing people.

Police can provide presentations to students on everything from online safety to drug awareness to job opportunities in law enforcement.

Louis Riel administration indicated the Wednesday visit was organized because the class is studying its surrounding community and guest presenters are involved.

School administrators, student services teachers and clinicians will be made available to provide support to staff and students.

“This will allow us to assist any students who may need to debrief and identify ways to care for themselves and others,” the principal said, adding parents can request additional support.

By Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 14, 2022

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Winnipeg, Manitoba

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