By News Service of Florida
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a measure to cover medical costs of retired law-enforcement dogs.
The law (SB 226), which will take effect July 1, will allow handlers of retired police dogs to receive up to $1,500 in reimbursements for annual veterinary costs.
“They’re put in very difficult situations,” DeSantis said of the dogs during a bill-signing event at the Kim C. Hammond Justice Center in Bunnell. “And they’re not only protecting the officers, but they’re protecting the public as a whole.”
The proposal was primarily sponsored by Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, and Rep. Sam Killebrew, R-Winter Haven.
It drew support in the Legislature from Emma Stanford, a Flagler County teenager who founded the non-profit organization Emma Loves K9s, which raises money for active and retired law-enforcement dogs.
“The retired dogs have served our community, and I believe they deserve the best possible care,” Stanford said at Friday’s event.
A Senate staff analysis of the bill said retired dogs often live with their law-enforcement partners, but veterinary expenses might be too costly because of “complications from law enforcement K9’s injuries, joint problems or other job-related health problems.”
The measure covers dogs that served at least five years with a law-enforcement agency or a correctional agency or that had to retire after three years because of injuries suffered in the line of duty.
The bill followed other legislative efforts in recent years to help law-enforcement animals. A 2021 law allowed emergency-medical technicians and paramedics to treat and transport law-enforcement dogs injured in the line of duty.
A 2019 law made it a second-degree felony, up from a third-degree felony, if people kill or cause great bodily harm to police, fire, or search-and-rescue dogs or police horses.
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