6 States Eye Increased Prison Terms, Fines for Harming Police K-9s

Advocates assert the cost of police dogs, their vital role in public protection, and their bond with officers support the need for stricter penalties.

Ai Generated 8475483 640IMAGE: PixabayIn at least six states, lawmakers are considering increased prison sentences or higher fines for individuals who harm or kill police dogs, according to an article on the Fox News website.

Kansas is the first to pass such legislation. Its House of Representatives voted 107-4 to pass a bill that allows judges to sentence first-time offenders to five years in prison and mandate a fine of at least $10,000 for killing dogs used by police, arson investigators, game wardens or search and rescue teams, and for killing police horses. Those crimes already are felonies in the state, the article noted, but the maximum prison sentence is one year; the maximum fine is $5,000, and the law does not specifically cover horses.

The article noted the Colorado House voted 52-12 in favor of legislation that would require people convicted of aggravated cruelty to a law enforcement animal to pay a minimum fine of $2,000 and reimburse an agency for its costs in caring for the animal or replacing it. They already face a prison sentence of up to six years in the state, Fox News reported.

The Missouri House gave initial approval to legislation that would increase the penalties for harming dogs and horses used by law enforcement, with a final vote expected soon, according to Fox News. The state’s current penalty for severely injuring or killing an animal is up to four years in prison, but the bill would increase it to seven years.

Similar legislation has been proposed in Hawaii, South Carolina and West Virginia.

The federal government and other states have already acted on the issue, according to the report. Under a 2000 federal law, a person who kills a police dog can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. In 2019, the possible penalty in Florida increased from up to five years in prison to up to 15 years. Tennessee increased its penalties in 2022, and Kentucky did so last year, Fox news reported.

Advocates for harsher penalties claim the high cost of obtaining and training these animals, their importance in protecting the public, and their familial bond with officers and their families justify the need for tougher measures, the report noted.

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