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.
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.
“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 Free Press (@tampafreepress) May 23, 2023
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.
The law will go into effect on October 1st.
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