Bills to ratchet up penalties for killing police dogs and horses cleared their final committees in the Senate and House Thursday, and are ready for floor votes.
SB 96, sponsored by Jacksonville Republican Sen. Aaron Bean, 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 said the inspiration for the bill was a local tragedy last September when a suspect shot and killed Fang, a 3-year-old Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K-9.
“The grief, the sadness,” Bean said.
The bill is intended to bring “support to law enforcement and respect for those animals.” A new amendment Thursday would extend the same protections to animals working for the Department of Corrections.
Police unions, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the Florida Police Chiefs Association, back this legislation, as does The Humane Society.
Federal legislation has protected police dogs since 2000. And other states have mulled similar legislation.
The United Kingdom likewise is exploring harsher penalties for these crimes.
Both the Senate version and House version are ready for a floor vote. HB 67, the companion, cleared Judiciary Thursday morning.