The recent and tragic death of police dog Jethro has the state of Ohio pushing for a revision to the existing law.
Ohio Senator Jim Hughes has proposed legislation to mandate 9–36 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for anyone who takes the life of a police animal on duty, or if the offender is aware that the animal is an officer. The money would help to cover the costs of obtaining and training a new police dog or horse.
The penalties are a step up from the already felony-classified bill, according to the official press release. There will be no early release considered for criminals serving a prison sentence.
10TV spoke with Franklin County Sheriff Sergeant Aaron Heflin regarding his loyal partner Vando, about whom he said:
If I lost [Vando] it would be like [losing] a person. In a way, it’s worse when something happens to a dog because—just like a child—we look at them as being more helpless.
Senator Hughes insists that any criminal willing to kill a K9 officer will not hesitate to do the same to a uniformed human, and that “the state of Ohio shouldn’t put up with this.” He adds, “We need to get tough on it right away and stop it before it gets out of control.”
These K9 handlers view their dogs as much more than aids in the line of duty. They are team members, and should be treated as such in both life and death. Hughes says:
We owe it to these animals and the officers who train and care for them to ensure that they are given a higher level of respect under the law, rather than being treated merely as police equipment.
The bill (Senate Bill 286) was introduced to a Senate committee for further consideration February 29, 2016.