ECB Publishing, Inc.
Starting October 1, those who kill or harm a law enforcement, search and rescue or fire fighting canine or horse in the state of Florida will be facing heightened penalties for their crime.
In late April, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 96.
The bill, which was introduced by Republican Senator Aaron Bean (of Nassau and part of Duval counties), will place harsher penalties on criminals who cause harm to a K9 or police horse.
Prior to the signing of the bill, K9s were protected and killing or harming a K9 was considered a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine.
However, this new law aims to establish harsher penalties against those who "intentionally and knowingly causing great bodily harm, permanent disability or death to, or using a deadly weapon upon, police canines or horses, fire canines, or search and rescue canines."
The act of injuring, killing or disabling a K9 will become a second degree felony, and injuring, killing or disabling a police horse will be a third degree felony.
Those who injure or kill a law enforcement, search and rescue or fire K9 could be punished by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The legislation came in response to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office bomb-detecting K9, Fang, who was killed in 2018 while in the line-of-duty.
Fang was the 98th K9 killed in the United States within the last four years.
In December of 2018, another Florida K9, Cigo with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, was shot and killed while pursuing a fleeing murder suspect.