The Ohio Senate is considering a bill that would make it mandatory for individuals convicted of killing a police dog to serve jail time. If the bill passes, offenders would be required to spend 9 to 36 months in jail with no early release and pay a fine of up to $10,000, which will help fund a new police dog for the unit.
The bill, introduced by Senator Jim Hughes, comes just months after a slew of police-dog killings, including K-9 Jethro of the Canton Ohio Police Department, who was fatally injured while responding to a burglary.
“We owe it to these animals and the officers who train and care for them to ensure that they are given a higher level of respect under the law, rather than being treated merely as police equipment,” Hughes said in a press release.
In February, Kirk Schuring of Ohio's House of Representatives introduced a bill that mandates that no one may purposely cause the death of a police dog by use of force when the dog is assisting a law enforcement officer in the performance of the officer’s official duties. Those who do so are guilty of a first-degree felony.
It is already a crime in Ohio to torment, taunt, interfere with, or knowingly harm a law enforcement dog or assistance dog. Assaulting a police dog or horse is already a second-degree misdemeanor, and if the animal dies, it’s a third degree felony. These bills increase those penalties for killing a police animal.
Earlier this month, the Kentucky Senate passed a bill that mandates individuals who attack a police dog with a gun or knife will be convicted of a felony and face one to five years in prison.
“We are definitely seeing a significant increase in the number of bills relating to penalties for the intentional harm of a police dog or service dog,” says Jennifer Clark of AKC’s Government Relations.
Interested in getting a similar legislation introduced in your state?
“The best thing to do is to contact their state senator or representative and let them know they have an interest in this issue,” says Clark. “You can also contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions on communicating with their legislators or dog laws in their state.”
The AKC recently announced a new program honoring dogs who serve in government roles: the AKC Canine Officer Program. More details are available here.