Fang death inspires Aaron Bean to protect police K-9s, horses

Fang 3

Earlier this year, a suspect shot and killed Fang, a 3-year-old Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K-9.

The German Shepherd chased the suspect into the woods, and that was his last chase. A 9 mm handgun saw to that. JSO and the larger community grieved.

And now, via area state Sen. Aaron Bean, a legislative remedy: A bill (SB 96) that would enhance penalties for anyone targeting a dog or horse in the service of police, fire, and other public safety agencies.

The Fernandina Beach Republican’s proposed legislation would render targeting or killing a canine used in public safety functions a second-degree felony. Those targeting horses, meanwhile, would be subject to a third-degree felony charge.

Bean noted the bill “tells law enforcement that we will stand by them,” and Steve Zona, the head of the Jacksonville lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, agrees.

“We are truly thankful for Sen. Bean and those who will support this legislation. Some people like to refer to our police service dogs as a ‘tool’ but they are so much more. A valuable part of our family who has saved the lives of our officers countless times. Those who do harm to our dogs need to be punished accordingly,” Zona said.

Sen. Bean noted that those who harm police animals “typically have committed another crime,” as was the case with Fang’s killer.

Zona agreed, saying that “those who hurt police dogs have usually been involved in serious crimes in the past. It is not their first rodeo.”

Federal legislation has protected police dogs since 2000. And other states have mulled similar legislation.

In 2018, Utah moved its own bill that, like the Bean proposal, made killing a police dog a second degree felony. South Carolina likewise moved to enhance penalties for these crimes.

The United Kingdom likewise is exploring harsher penalties for these crimes.

Northeast Florida’s legislative delegation brims with law enforcement supporters, and the smart money is on strong regional backing in the House also.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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