Animal Abuse and the FBI’s Legislation Passed to Protect Injured Police Dogs

July 15, 2015

For criminals tempted to kick a narcotics dog alerting at their backpack or to hit a horse during demonstrations, with the passage of the Federal Law Enforcement Act, the U.S. government has a message: if you injure or abuse a federal law enforcement animal you will go to jail.

The Humane Society and The United States Police Canine Association believe this new law will offer increased animal welfare and protection for law enforcement animals while also deterring  criminals from targeting canines, by recognizing them as living beings and valued partners rather than as a piece of police equipment or property such as a computer or car.

Drug Bust Targets

Prior to the law going into effect the Police Canine Association had been alerted that narcotics dogs had bounties placed on them by narcotics dealers. This law puts dealers on notice that they will be prosecuted fully for any injuries or deaths to law enforcement animals during the commission of a crime.

Animal welfare legislation like this act is necessary because law enforcement animals need greater protection under federal law due to the variety of dangerous situations they are placed in, and because their bond with their human partners. They are sent in first to survey and dangerous crime scene that involves bombs, drugs or any high risk situation.

Changes in the Law

Prior to the new law, anyone who harmed a police canine could only be charged with a Class A demeanor. The new law increases the penalty for injuring, abusing or killing any law enforcement or emergency service animals to a Class D felony. It also expands the prosecutable crimes to include injuring or killing the animal when they can be identified as a law enforcement animal in a police vehicle, an emergency vehicle or when enclosed within a designated area.

Under the act, anyone who is convicted of purposely injuring, maiming, assaulting or killing a federal law enforcement animal such a police dog or horse can be fined a minimum of  $1,000 and receive up to 10 years in prison. Before the act went into effect, these animals fell under a variety of state laws rather than federal laws.

Any animal who works for a federal law enforcement agency is protected under the Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act, including animals working the National Park Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and those who protect the U.S. Capitol.

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