TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NEWS SERVICE FLORIDA) - The Florida House on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that would increase criminal penalties for people who injure or kill dogs or horses that work with police officers and other first responders.
The unanimous House vote sends the bill (SB 96) to Gov. Ron DeSantis. Senators also unanimously approved the bill last week.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, and Rep. Josie Tomkow, R-Polk City, would make it a second-degree felony, up from a third-degree felony, for people who kill or cause great bodily harm to police, fire or search-and-rescue dogs or police horses. The change would boost the amount of potential prison time from five years to 15 years.
Supporters said the bill stems, at least in part, from the death of Fang, a 3-year-old member of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office canine unit shot and killed last September by a teenager fleeing after carjacking two women at a gas station.
House members Thursday also cited the Christmas Eve death of a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office police dog named Cigo that was killed in the line of duty.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.