A bill allowing the owners of retired law enforcement dogs to recoup some of their pet’s vet costs passed its second House committee Tuesday.
HB 25, which allows former handlers or adopters of retired law enforcement dogs that served for five years or more to get up to $1,500 annually for veterinary costs, passed the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously. The bill provides $300,000 in recurring funding from the general fund to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to finance the program.
The bill defines a retired law enforcement dog as a dog that was previously in the service of, or employed by, a Florida law enforcement agency for the purpose of aiding in the detection of criminal activity, enforcement of laws or apprehension of offenders that has been certified in obedience and apprehension work. The bill requires FDLE to contract a nonprofit corporation selected through a competitive grant award process to manage the grant program.
During legislator questions on the bill, Rep. Mike Caruso brought up that the law would not apply to dogs forced to retire before five years because of an injury. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sam Killebrew, said he plans to make an amendment adding that exception to the bill.
“That’s the next amendment, thank you,” he said, followed by a brief chuckle.
Improving treatment of law enforcement dogs has been a theme over the past two sessions. A bill in the 2021 Legislative Session allowed EMTs to provide on-scene care and transportation for police dogs as they would for human law enforcement officers.
SB 226, HB 25’s Senate companion, has already passed two committees and is next scheduled for a hearing by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The House legislation’s final stop is the House Judiciary Committee.