Police dogs in Florida will soon have added protection in crimes committed against them
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Penalties will get more stiff for committing crimes against police dogs under a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The bill (HB 1047) will increase the penalty from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony for "intentionally maliciously" touching, striking or causing bodily harm to dogs working with police, search-and-rescue officials, or firefighters.
"Florida’s K-9s play heroic roles in responding to emergencies, apprehending criminals, and keeping our communities safe," said Gov. Ron DeSantis. "In Florida, back-the-blue includes supporting our K-9s that fearlessly protect their handlers and use their unique skills to help people in ways that humans cannot. If criminals choose to intentionally harm these animals, the penalties must be harsh."
The increased penalty also would apply to people who harm police horses. "In Florida, back-the-blue includes supporting our K-9s that fearlessly protect their handlers and use their unique skills to help people in ways that humans cannot," DeSantis said in a prepared statement. "If criminals choose to intentionally harm these animals, the penalties must be harsh."
Penalties will be bumped up from second-degree to first-degree misdemeanors for people who interfere or attempt to interfere with police dogs or horses performing their duties. The law also will make it a third-degree felony to "knowingly and willfully" resist, obstruct or oppose police dogs or horses "by offering or doing violence" to the animals.
This bill builds on legislation signed in 2019 which raised the crime of harming or killing a police K-9 or horse to a second-degree felony. In 2021, legislation was passed to allow emergency service vehicles to transport injured police canines to a veterinary clinic to ensure they receive quick medical attention.
The measure will go into effect in October.