Protecting Law Enforcement Animals

March 19, 2013

ALBANY, 03/19/13 -- State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I – Oneonta) today joined senate and assembly colleagues to announce introduction of legislation that will give proper recognition to those who are often overlooked in law, law enforcement animals.  The bill (S.1079) increases the penalties for killing or injuring a police animal by making it a class D felony.  Under current law, killing or injuring a police animal is a class A misdemeanor.

“Police animals serve and protect just like their human counterparts, and in many cases they are the first line of defense in a hostile situation,” said Senator Seward.  “That was the case in Herkimer where an armed killer held a small community in fear until FBI dog Ape led officers to the criminal’s location, bringing to an end a tense two days.  Ape gave his life to protect others and that kind of courage should be honored.  I have co-sponsored legislation elevating penalties for killing or injuring a police animal for some time, and hope the added attention of Ape’s death will help bring final adoption of the measure.”

State and local law enforcement agencies increasingly rely on the use of animals to assist in crime solving and rescue and recovery operations. These animals and the services they provide are valuable to the citizens of New York and, significant time and resources are devoted to training them.

In addition, under current law, a person is guilty of this crime when the animal is killed or injured while the animal is performing its duties. This bill expands the crime to include killing or injuring the animal when the animal can be identified as a police animal by means of its presence in a police vehicle or an emergency vehicle, or by its enclosure in a marked area.  This legislation comes to light after an FBI dog was killed last week during the incident in Herkimer County.

Senator Seward has been a long-time co-sponsor of the legislation which has passed in the senate on several occasions including 2012 by unanimous vote.

The bill is now on third reading in the senate, a companion bill has also been introduced in the state assembly.