FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- A bill proposed by Fairfield lawmakers would enhance criminal penalties for anyone who harms a police dog in the line of duty.
The new law backed by state Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28) and state Rep. Brenda Kupchick (R-132) is designed to protect a police animal or dog in volunteer canine search and rescue teams from intentional injury or killing.
The bill is HB-67015, An Act Increasing the Penalties for the Intentional Injury or Killing of Police Animals or Dogs in Volunteer Canine Search and Rescue Teams.
It would increase the penalty from Class D to Class C felony for injuring and from Class C to Class B felony for killing a police dog. The punishment for a Class C felony is 1 to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000. The punishment for a Class B felony in Connecticut is 20 years in jail and a fine of $15,000.
Currently, the Federal Law, Enforcement Animal Protection Act, punishes those who assault, maim or kill a federal law enforcement animal with a minimum $1,000 fine or potentially 10 years imprisonment.
"Our first responder animals protect us, and we've got to do our part to protect them in the best way we can," Hwang said. "It has been an honor to work with Rep. Kupchick, Rep. Fred Camillo, and state law enforcement on this important legislation, and we truly appreciate the public support this common sense proposal has received."
“We must remember that law enforcement and search and rescue dogs put their lives on the line every day for state residents, just like our law enforcement officers and rescue personnel do," Kupchick said.
"These animals are engaged in serious and often dangerous operations from the apprehension of criminal suspects, detection of illegal drugs and bombs, or that can result in injuries or death.”
“I would like to thank Senator Hwang and Representative Kupchick for this legislation," said Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara.
"Our police K9’s are more than just a tool meant to help our officers. Police K9’s are integral members of our department. With their handlers they help to keep our communities safe, are sometimes placed in situations that risk their lives, they protect our officers, and are members of the community."
The bill received unanimous support in the Public Safety and Security committee and next goes to the Judiciary committee.