Oct. 12, 1999
By the Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Harming a police dog or horse could lead to a fine of at least $1,000 and up to a year in prison under legislation the House passed today.
If the injury disables, disfigures or kills the animal, the maximum term of imprisonment would increase to 10 years.
The penalties would apply to animals used by federal law enforcement agencies. Twenty-seven states have passed laws protecting police animals, said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Ill.
"The government spends a considerable amount of time and money to train these animals," Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., said during debate on the House floor. "And the government employees who use these dogs during the course of their law enforcement work often form a close bond with them."
The bill was passed by voice vote.
Under current law, police dogs and horses are protected only by statutes covering the destruction of government property, which offer the option of prison in lieu of paying a fine.
The measure has not yet been introduced in the Senate.