The West

Jail for punching police dog
Police dog Ash with his original trainer, Const Pat Joyce. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

A man who punched a police dog while trying to evade arrest has been convicted of animal cruelty in a State-first prosecution.

Steven Ray Clarke, 24, pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrate's Court to the animal cruelty charge and stealing a motor vehicle.

Clarke, of Canning Vale, was spotted by police in Queens Park driving a stolen Toyota sedan early on Saturday, August 18.

Police chased the car but aborted the pursuit soon after it began for safety reasons.

Officers found the car abandoned a short time later near a bush track in East Cannington and called in the services of police dog Ash and his handler Const. Andrew Reid.

Ash followed the scent left by Clarke and found him in bush, latching on to his forearm.

The 24-year-old punched the German shepherd five times in the head before other officers restrained him.

Clarke was ordered to pay court costs and was sentenced to one month in jail, to be served concurrently with other penalties.

Sen. Sgt Andy Gingell, from the dog squad, said the court had sent a clear message to the community by sending Clarke to jail.

"We don't believe our animals should be treated in this way and we will be looking at every possible chance in the future to charge people that do attack our dogs with cruelty to animals or other charges available under the various Acts," he said.

Eight-year-old Ash began his police career in 2006 under the guidance of Const. Pat Joyce. The dog retired last month and is now cared for by Const. Reid and his family. Const. Reid remains with the dog squad with a new dog.

The West Australian

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