Until recently it seemed as though few took much notice when a K-9 officer was killed in the line of duty beyond his handler and those in the department he served in. Yet, police dogs go through rigorous training that takes months to complete; they are completely bonded to their human officers and often become a part of that officer’s family.
Saving Lives without Fear
The job of a police dog is not an easy one, they are often the first one in the line of fire and put themselves unafraid into some of the most dangerous positions imaginable. Positions that a human officer either can’t get into, such as in a crawlspace or cannot reach in time to make a difference.
In many instances, the police dog saves the day by taking out the perpetrator before they can harm the officer or anyone else. Bottom line, in many cases the presence of a K-9 can defuse a situation long before it escalates to the point of violence and the potential for someone ends up getting killed.
But What Happens if the K-9 Is Injured or Killed?
Herein lies the problem, far too many people still see dogs as nothing more than animals that deserve little to no respect. To see this, all you have to do is look at the number of abandoned and abused dogs at the shelters across the nation. So, when a K-9 officer is injured or killed in the line of duty, the penalties in most states have been minor at best.
But the deaths and injuries to K-9 officers are a fact of life, for example in California 2017, ten K-9 officers were killed in the line of duty. At the moment, injuring or killing a K-9 officer in most states in a misdemeanor that typically results in a fine and a few years in prison. Seems like nothing more than a slap on the wrist for killing what is in all essence a police officer, yet this is exactly where things are at across the country.
Cranking Up the Penalties
In California, Fresno Assemblyman and former Mayor of Fresno Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) is one of the co-sponsors of the “Police Dog Protection Act of 2018.” The bill aims to raise the crime of injuring or killing a K-9 officer from a misdemeanor much like a parking ticket to a felony. The same thing is happening in Florida where a bill is being introduced that would raise the punishment for killing a police dog to a felony that carries a 5-7-year stint in prison.
These are just two states’ attempts to elevate the crime of killing a K-9 officer to felony level. Connecticut has a bill going through the Senate that will impose a fine of up to $10,000 and ten years in prison. Even the feds are getting involved with new laws being considered on a federal level. It’s long past time that K-9 officers received the recognition they deserve and that those who would do them harm receive the punishment they deserve.