A new Florida law will ensure that injured police dogs have a fighting chance at survival after being injured on duty.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill that allows injured police dogs to be transported to a hospital via ambulance.
“It will end up potentially saving the lives of some of our K-9s,” DeSantis said at a news conference.
The bill specifies that as long as no person requires immediate medical attention, K-9s can be transported in an ambulance. It also authorizes paramedics to give aid to the dogs either at the scene or during transport; previously, paramedics and medical technicians were vulnerable to civic and/or criminal liabilities when treating injured dogs.
DeSantis tweeted, “We all have a soft spot for our four-legged companions, especially the ones that keep our families and our law enforcement safe. @FLCaseyDeSantis and I were proud to sign a bill that will guarantee care for K9s wounded on the job.”
State Sen. Tom Wright, who served two years as a volunteer K-9 officer, spearheaded the bill in the Legislature.
“I know how much … these dogs mean to these officers,” he said. “They are part of their family, and we need to take care of them.”
Back in 2019, DeSantis and his administration showed their care for animals by passing a law that made it a second-degree felony for seriously injuring police horses and dogs, making such a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick talked about the special relationship between K9s and their officers, and said the bill recognized them as being part of the family.
“They’re not just K9s. These are deputies, these are firefighters, these are investigators,” Hardwick said. “It’s just so important that we recognize that they are a part of this profession and this family. And they serve this community.”
Founder of K9s United Debbie Johnson referred to a case in Jacksonville as an example of why this law is so important.
In March 2020, K9 Bane was trapped in his handler’s car after it caught fire. His handler, ATF Special Agent Brian Schiffer and others broke the SUV’s windows and fought the fire with extinguishers until Jacksonville Fire Rescue personnel arrived.
Bane was unconscious and had to be treated with oxygen and an IV at the scene. Then, a JFRD captain made the call to transport Bane to an emergency vet.
“I absolutely believe them treating him and transporting him absolutely saved his life. Without a doubt. I’m very thankful for them for doing what they did,” Schiffer told News4Jax following DeSantis’ bill.
Bane made a full recovery and is still working for ATF in Jacksonville.
Whereas before it was uncommon to transport K-9s in this manner, now it will be standard protocol.