The House unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would allow emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics to transport and treat injured police K9s in Florida.
Under current law, emergency workers are prohibited from transporting or rendering aid to Florida’s four-legged crimefighters.
Talk about ruff.
The bill (SB 388), however, would allow EMTs to provide on-scene care for police dogs as they would human law enforcement officers.
They are, after all, law enforcement officers.
“I find it funny that you actually have to file this bill to be able to put a police officer in the back of an ambulance, a fire truck, a rescue truck to take to the hospital that’s injured,” said Democratic Rep. Matt Willhite. “That police officer put their life on the line trying to stop a criminal.”
Sponsored by Republican Sen. Tom Wright, the bill also shields paramedics and EMTs who render aid from criminal or civil liability.
Police K9s are equally as exposed to on-the-job dangers their human counterparts. According to a staff analysis, 49 police K9s have died in the line of duty,
Most recently, a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office canine named Fang was shot and killed by a fleeing teenager who carjacked two women at a gas station. Fang was 3 years old.
“Police dogs are frequently used in conjunction with high-intensity, criminal situations and are often deployed by their handlers to chase after fleeing felons,” the staff analysis notes.
Democrats and Republicans alike rallied around the legislation. The bill didn’t receive as single downvote throughout the legislative process.
In March, Attorney General Ashley Moody traveled to Daytona Beach with Wright to garner support for the bill.
“Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line daily to serve their communities and protect our safety — and their four-legged partners risk their lives protecting them,” Moody said.
If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1.