Penalties for Harming K9 Officers Gets a Lot Tougher in Some States

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

Longer prison terms and stiffer fines hoped to discourage would-be shooters.

Photo Credit: FotoDax /

We’ve heard the expression that not all heroes wear capes, right? Well, until recently, not all of these cape-less heroes received the protection they needed when venturing out into dangerous situations. While penalties are stiff for shooting a police officer in the line of duty, not so much for their four-legged partners. But that’s about to change with the introduction of some much-needed legislation that protects our K9 heroes while on the job.

You see, several states have stepped up to the plate to add some “teeth” to current laws that will ultimately take a much harder line with criminals who harm or kill police dogs. For instance, in Kansas, first-time offenders may now receive an automatic sentence of five years and be mandated to pay a fine of no less than $10,000 for killing the K9 partner of a law enforcement officer, search and rescue team, or game warden. And while most of us have probably never really thought about it, this new law includes police horses – another cape-less hero that works crowds, riots, and off-road pursuits – yet had never received this level of protection. As a basis of comparison, the previous penalty for causing injury to policing animals was one mere year and a maximum fine of $5,000. So, what’s been introduced is a substantial jump that will hopefully cause culprits to think long and hard before acting.

Following on the heels of Kansas is Colorado. With a prison sentence that is already up to six years, state legislators chose to bump up the minimum of $2,000 by adding a unique twist. The felon now also has to cover the cost of caring for, training and replacing the service animal. An expense that typically runs in the range of $12-15,000.

But while other states have also strengthened the penalties and find for harming a police dog or horse, the Massachusetts State Police found a safe yet effective way to isolate a suspect without placing their K9 support team in harm’s way. The individual had barricaded themselves in a house and was firing upon law enforcement officers. What to do? They sent in the robotic dog typically used for bomb disposal.

Controlled remotely and using a camera, the “pooch” named Roscoe checked out the two main floors before discovering the armed individual in the basement. Info was relayed back to the squad outside who could then lob in tear gas and apprehend the shooter. Even though Roscoe took three bullets that disabled his communication system, no lives were lost. Including those of cape-less heroes. Perhaps something to chew on?

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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