Legislature passes bill to increase penalties for killing, injuring police dogs and horses
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals commends New York legislators for passing A.2596/S.1079, to increase criminal penalties for the intentional killing or injuring of a police animal, including both police dogs and horses. Sponsored by Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-Rockland, and Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, A.2596/S.1079 passed unanimously and now heads to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.
"Police dogs are on the front lines detecting dangers, apprehending criminals, and rescuing victims every day," said Bill Ketzer, senior state director of ASPCA government relations for the northeast region. "The loss of a police animal is a loss to the entire community, and we applaud New York legislators for passing this bill."
A.2596/S.1079 increases penalties by making it a Class E Felony to intentionally kill or injure a police animal. It will also expand the criminal liability to include circumstances when a police animal can be reasonably identified as a police animal by means of its presence in a marked police or emergency vehicle or enclosure. Previously, inflicting serious harm or killing a police animal was a Class A misdemeanor, limited to only protect the animals when they were in the line of duty or under police supervision.
"A.2596/S.1079 will honor the sacrifices of these highly trained animals and acknowledge the priceless value that police animals have to law enforcement and the citizens of New York," added Ketzer. "We urge Gov. Cuomo to sign this important legislation to protect these heroic animals and recognize their role in assisting police officers."
"I am excited to see that canine members of law enforcement agencies are getting the recognition and protection that they deserve," said Brad Shear, executive director of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, and president of the New York State Animal Protection Federation. "The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society maintains the K9 Memorial site in cooperation with the Capital District Police K9 Training Group, and we have long recognized the importance of working police animals in our communities."
At New York Voices for Animals Day, held in Albany on May 6, A.2596/S.1079 was a priority bill that citizen advocates lobbied their legislators to support. The need for this bill was brought to the forefront after an incident in March, when "Ape," an FBI police dog, was shot and killed in Herkimer County while in pursuit of an at-large gunman. He was mortally wounded by the gunman during the shootout and died after efforts to save him by a veterinarian on the scene were unsuccessful. Ape had been on duty for less than a month.
For more information on the ASPCA or to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, visitwww.aspca.org.