‘Voiceless yet critical’: Legislature enhances penalties for killers of police dogs, horses

Fang 3
There were no votes against the bill.

It was justice for ‘Fang’ and other police animals killed in action Thursday.

The House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill ratcheting up penalties for those who kill police K-9s or horses. The bill now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ desk.

Sponsoring GOP Rep. Josie Tomkow moved the Senate version of the bill (SB 96) to the floor the day before.

“This is the law enforcement bill that we heard yesterday,” Tomkow told the chamber.

Sponsored by Jacksonville Republican Sen. Aaron Bean, it renders 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.

Police unions, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the Florida Police Chiefs Association, back this legislation, as does The Humane Society.

The legislation’s genesis was the death of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K-9 Fang, who was killed in pursuit of a suspect.

Representatives from across the state lauded the bill, describing dogs who died heroically in pursuit of those who violated human laws, ahead of the vote.

Rep. Kristin Jacobs, a Coconut Creek Democrat, discussed her daughter, a K-9 officer: “As a mom, I worry every day about her safety, and that of her canine partner.”

CFO Jimmy Patronis, a staunch backer of the legislation, lauded the bill’s passage.

 “This session, I have advocated on behalf of voiceless yet critical members of law enforcement teams across our state—law enforcement animals. I am grateful that the Florida Legislature has taken action to ensure these animals will get the much-needed protections they deserve,” Patronis said.

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

In 2018, Utah moved its own bill that, like Bean’s proposal, made killing a police dog a second-degree felony. South Carolina likewise moved to enhance penalties for these crimes. And the United Kingdom likewise is exploring harsher penalties for these crimes.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been the Northeast Florida correspondent for Florida Politics since 2014. He writes for the New York Post and National Review also, with previous work in the American Conservative and Washington Times and a 15+ year run as a columnist in Folio Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski

One comment

  • Bill Wynne

    April 12, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    Every State should have these laws PERIOD!

    Bill Wynne, owner/trainer of WWII Smoky,4lb Yorkie, First Therapy Dog.
    new book “SMOKY, The Dog That Saved My Life,THE BILL WYNNE STORY Ohio U. Press


Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704