DeSantis Signs Bill Increasing Penalties for Harming Police Canines

Penalties for committing crimes against Police K-9s will increase 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.

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Republican Sen. Aaron Bean has said the shooting death of a K-9 named Fang in Jacksonville last year inspired his bill. The 3-year-old German shepherd was killed as police chased a 17-year-old carjacking suspect.

The increased penalty also would apply to people who harm police horses.

K9 Fang – Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

“Florida’s K-9s play heroic roles in responding to emergencies, apprehending criminals, and keeping our communities safe,” DeSantis said upon signing the measure Tuesday.

“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.

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The law will go into effect on October 1st.

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