The Florida Senate will soon vote on a bill that would use state funds to cover medical care costs for retired law enforcement dogs.
The bill, introduced by Senator Bobby Powell, aims to establish the Care for Retired Law Enforcement Dogs Program, which would set aside $300,000 from the state’s General Revenue Fund for use by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to contract with a nonprofit veterinary care organization to provide medical care for the retired K-9s.
The bill was recently approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and moved to the full Senate for deliberation.
Powell said the bill is intended to give back to K-9s that provide so much value to law enforcement.
“They have capabilities that far exceed those of any human being or any technology that we have. They provide extremely cost-effective approaches to crime control,” Powell said.
According to the bill, K-9s would need to serve at least five years in a crime-fighting capacity to be eligible for the program. Each eligible dog would receive $1,500 in annual veterinary care.
The bill states that after the dogs retire, they often live with their handler. However, medical costs can be steep. Often, after a grueling career of fighting crime, the dogs can suffer from a multitude of health issues, including joint pain, back, hip and dental issues.
According to a report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, some law enforcement agencies assist handlers with paying for the dog’s veterinary care, but most do not.
The article states that the bill would go into effect on July 1 this year if signed into law.
Miami Democratic Senator Jason Pizzo is one of the co-sponsors of the bill. He was urged by a student attending MAST Academy in Miami to support the bill.
“I wrote back and told her that I was an easy sell because I’m a dog lover,” he said.