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Florida Senate Boosts Penalties For Harming Police Dogs, Horses

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - People who injure or kill dogs or horses that work with police officers and other first responders would face stiffer penalties, under a measure unanimously approved Wednesday by the Florida Senate.

Sponsor Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said the bill (SB 96) is in response to the death of Fang, a 3-year-old member of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office canine unit shot and killed last September by a teenager fleeing after carjacking two women at a gas station.

Bean said Fang "was executed." The House version (HB 67) awaits a floor vote, after cruising through committees without any objection.

The proposal would make it a second-degree felony, up from a third-degree felony, for people who kill or cause great bodily harm to police, fire or search-and-rescue dogs or police horses.

The change would boost the amount of potential prison time from five years to 15 years. In 2017, 140 police departments and 65 sheriff's offices in Florida used specially trained dogs for purposes such as tracking criminal suspects and detecting drugs and bombs.

Fire departments also use dogs for arson detection. Incidents involving injuries or deaths to horses are less frequent, as mounted police units are most commonly used for non-criminal situations.

But a Senate staff analysis noted that a reveler who had been drinking in 2016 at the Gasparilla parade in Tampa punched a 19-year-old horse named Chad.

(©2019 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida's contributed to this report.)

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