On Thursday, Massachusetts state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, D-Springfield, the chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and state Rep. Steven Xiarhos, R-Barnstable, joined with Springfield police and Mayor Domenic J. Sarno to promote a bill legislators are drafting that would ensure health costs of police dogs are funded after they retire.
“Dakota’s Bill” was named for a K9 that responded to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder so severe it was recommended the dog be euthanized. An animal rehabilitator stepped in to care for the dog, which is now featured in a movie that promotes the law, Xiarhos told MassLive.
There are multiple charities created to help animals. This fund created by Dakota’s Bill would combine donations and state money and give owners of retired K9s, who are usually the officers who handled the dogs, one place to go for financial help, he said.
Xiarhos is also the author of “Nero’s Law,” which allows EMTs to treat and transport working dogs by ambulance if they are seriously injured in the line of duty. He was the Yarmouth Police Chief in 2018 when one of his K9 officers, Sgt. Sean Gannon, was killed while trying to apprehend a career criminal. His dog, who the bill is named for, was shot but survived.
Gonzalez said he expects work on the bill to be completed by the end of the month. Once filed, it will be moved to the Ways and Means Committee for further debate.