(WBNG Binghamton) New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday signed legislation that will make the killing of a police animal a felony.
According to a news release from Cuomo's office:
Specially-trained police animals, particularly dogs and horses, are often put in harm's way when they are relied upon by law enforcement to keep New Yorkers safe. The new law will hold responsible individuals who kill these animals.
"Police animals go where others will not in order to keep law enforcement officials and all New Yorkers safe from harm and it’s a tragedy when one is killed," Governor Cuomo said. "This new law will hold the guilty parties accountable and offer better protections for these highly trained animals who are important members of our law enforcement community.”
Law enforcement agencies have increasingly relied on the use of animals to assist with a variety of tasks to protect New Yorkers, including crime solving as well as rescue and recovery operations. The animals' specialized abilities are the result of extensive training that requires a great deal of time and resources. The killing of a police animal is both a tragic event and a serious loss to law enforcement in their work to keep New Yorkers safe. The new law signed today by Governor Cuomo (S1079A) will make the killing of a police dog or a police horse while it is performing its duties a class E felony. It is currently a Class A misdemeanor. The new law takes effect on November 1, 2013.
In addition, the Governor today signed legislation (S1993A) that will allow police departments to waive the requirement that a police dog must be confined for 10 days after biting an individual while in the course of official duties. Under current law, dogs that had bitten individuals are detained for a 10 day observation period as a precaution to protect against any possible rabies exposure. As police dogs are a vital part of a police department's mission, the new law will allow law enforcement to receive a waiver from a local health department – based on the dog's up-to-date rabies vaccinations – to allow the dog to immediately return to its duties keeping New Yorkers safe. The new law will take effect immediately.
Senator George D. Maziarz, who sponsored (S1079A), said: “Every day, police animals throughout New York are protecting and serving our citizens. In 2011, Rocky, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office K-9, lost his life while tracking clues in a robbery. Animals like Rocky are continually and increasingly used for tasks that place their lives on the line. It is time that we provide these animals with the protection they deserve under the law when they are injured or die in the line of duty.”
Senator David Carlucci, who sponsored (S1993A), said, “This is common sense legislation that will provide our law enforcement personnel with the tools and flexibility they need to protect all New Yorkers. Our K-9 officers provide an invaluable service and should not be subjected to unnecessary confinement for simply doing their jobs. Today, we have taken another step forward to remove an additional costly mandate. I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this into law and for his commitment to law enforcement and overall public safety."
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, who sponsored both bills, said, "I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing these two important bills. The importance of police animals during investigations and apprehensions has significantly grown over the years. These animals provide protection, assistance and improve public safety. State and local police invest a great deal of time and resources in the training of these extraordinary animals and our laws must reflect that."