Harming a K9: A high price to pay

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

The bond between man and dog has existed for hundreds, thousands of years.
From the fields to the woods and then to our homes, dogs have worked and thrived alongside mankind since almost the dawn of ages.
That partnership extends to the service that law enforcement officers provide as they serve and protect the citizens within their department's reach.
The line of duty for the men and women who serve our communities often includes dangers and risks to their life – and that danger extends to the trained K9s who assist their law enforcement or first responder handlers in guarding the people, families and businesses under their protection.
Currently, under Florida law, K9s are protected and killing or harming a K9 is considered a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine.
However, a bill that aims to establish harsher penalties for criminals who cause harm to a K9 has been placed on the agenda for the Florida Senate committee, as of Monday, Feb. 4, and a similar bill was filed for the House Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
The bill was introduced primarily by Republican Senator Aaron Bean (of Nassau and part of Duval counties).
The bill would increase the penalty for the act of killing or injuring a K9 from Florida's current punishment, 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, (pictured at the top of this page), 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.
The bill would continue to include Search and Rescue K9s, Law Enforcement K9s and Fire K9s, and would begin to include police horses in its protection.
The bill would make the act of injuring, killing or disabling a K9 a second degree felony, and injuring, killing or disabling a police horse a third degree felony.