Thanks to a new law inspired by an Edmonton police dog, anybody convicted of intentionally killing a service animal can now face up to five years in jail.

Quanto's Law, named after the Edmonton police dog that was stabbed to death while chasing down a suspect in a parking lot, officially came into effect on Thursday.

Before then, animal cruelty was the strictest possible charge for people who killed or hurt police dogs, horses, and other service animals.

"The service that our dogs and service animals in general are capable of providing is really remarkable," said Sgt. Adam Segin, the Canine Unit Acting Staff Sergeant for the Edmonton Police. "It's nice that there's now this formal recognition of their service, how valuable it is."

Paul Joseph Vukmanich was sentenced to 26 months in prison after pleading guilty to six charges in the Quanto case, including one for killing the dog. But the short sentence prompted concerns about the limited laws around service animal cruelty.

In 2013, the Conservatives pledged pass legislation creating a specific charge for harming service animals.

On Thursday, Multiculturalism Minister Tim Uppal joined Edmonton police officers to officially mark the enactment of the new law.

"This sends a strong message to anyone that was to injure or kill a service animal in the line of duty will be met with very serious consequences," Uppal said. "They're there to protect us and we should be protecting them."