SACRAMENTO – Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) today announced Senate Bill 911, legislation that ensures killers of police dogs are prosecuted as felons.
“Everyone is safer when police dogs are on the front lines of duty with their human partners, from law enforcement and victims to the community-at-large. These animals risk their lives to serve and protect,” said Senator Gaines. “It’s our duty to make sure we are protecting them by toughening penalties if they are harmed.”
Senate Bill 911, the Police Dog Protection Act of 2018, will make it a mandatory felony for intentionally killing or inflicting serious injury to a police dog or police horse in the line of duty. Current law involving injury to police animals is a “wobbler,” meaning that either a misdemeanor or a felony can be charged depending on the circumstances. SB 911 makes it an automatic felony.
Police animals are a significant investment of taxpayer dollars. For example, it can cost police agencies about $10,000 to buy a K-9 dog and up to about $100,000 for training, equipment and care throughout its career.
At least 10 police dogs have been killed in the line of duty over the past five years in California. Nationally, 24 police dogs were killed in action in 2017.
Senator Gaines said state law needs to be toughened so we don’t have to add to those statistics. “We want to make it clear that harming a member of our law enforcement community – dog, horse or human – will result in serious consequences. My hope is that by increasing the penalty, we will decrease the death statistics for these brave animals.”
A police dog or “K-9” is a dog that is specifically trained to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel. Their duties include: searching for drugs and explosives, locating missing people, finding crime scene evidence, and protecting their handlers. Police dogs are trained using verbal cues and hand gestures. The most commonly used breeds are the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois and Rottweiler.