ALBANY, NY – Nearly one year after first introducing his bill aimed at strengthening local law enforcement, the New York State Senate today passed Senator Carlucci's bill (S.1993) that exempts police dogs from confinement if they bite a suspect in the course of their official duty. The Senator had originally introduced the bill back in January, 2012.
Under current New York State law, animals who may have exposed an individual to rabies must be confined for a 10-day confinement and observation period. However, law enforcement agencies throughout the state argue that this inadvertently poses an undue burden by subjecting police dogs to an unfair double standard. These K-9 officers are expected to subdue fleeing suspects, yet at the same time they are punished if they happen to apprehend that same individual.
"This is an important first step in making sure that our brave K-9 officers are not handcuffed on the front lines when protecting our communities and keeping us safe," said Senator Carlucci. "By removing an unnecessary mandate, we will ensure that our police departments can effectively and more efficiently combat crime and do their jobs."
The legislation came to fruition when the Clarkstown Police Department approached Senator Carlucci about their own experiences with the issue.
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, who is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly, said: "I am happy the Senate took action on this important legislation and I look forward to pushing this bill in the Assembly this session. By removing this burdensome mandate, we can ensure that our highly trained K-9 units are able to continue to protect our communities."
The term confinement and observation refers to the conditions under which apparently healthy dogs, cats, domesticated ferrets, and domestic live stock could be subjected to either home confinement if they bite and individual and are not exhibiting rabies symptoms.
If the county health authority does not approve home confinement, however, the 10 day confinement and observation period must take place at another facility, such as an animal shelter, veterinarian’s office, kennel or farm. Upon the conclusion of the confinement and observation period, the county health authority must verify that the animal is healthy before allowed to be released.
The bill now moves to the state Assembly for consideration.