Florida police dogs get added protections under DeSantis bill

Author: News Service of Florida
Published: Updated:
A K-9 unit being used to sniff a vehicle. Credit: AP

Penalties will get stiffer for committing crimes against police dogs under a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The bill (HB 1047) will increase the penalty from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony for “intentionally maliciously” touching, striking or causing bodily harm to dogs working with police, search-and-rescue officials or firefighters.

The increased penalty also would apply to people who harm police horses.

“In Florida, back-the-blue includes supporting our K-9s that fearlessly protect their handlers and use their unique skills to help people in ways that humans cannot,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.

“If criminals choose to intentionally harm these animals, the penalties must be harsh.”

Penalties will be bumped up from second-degree to first-degree misdemeanors for people who interfere or attempt to interfere with police dogs or horses performing their duties.

The law also will make it a third-degree felony to “knowingly and willfully” resist, obstruct or oppose police dogs or horses “by offering or doing violence” to the animals. The measure will go into effect in October.

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