A new law in New York will increase the penalty for killing a police dog or horse from a misdemeanor to a felony and will go into effect Nov. 1. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the law on Wednesday, reports the Washington Post.
The legislation, called “Ape’s Law,” was inspired by the shooting of an FBI dog — a 2-year-old Czech German Shepherd, named “Ape”— as he led officers to Kurt Myers in an abandoned Mohawk Valley bar where he was hiding. Myers had killed four people and injured two others. Myers was killed by police fire after he shot at officers and killed Ape.
Bill S1078A-2013 reads:
Increases killing or injuring a police animal from class A misdemeanor to class D felony.
Provides that when a person intentionally kills a police work horse or police work dog in the performance of its duties under the supervision of a police officer it shall constitute a class E felony.
The governor also signed a bill into law that will allow police departments to waive the requirement that a police dog be confined for 10 days after biting a person in the course of official duties. The law will allow law enforcement agencies to return the dog to duty after receiving a waiver from the health department, reports the Watertown Daily Times.
In St. Lawrence County, New York, Deputy Andrew J. Ashley is the lone K-9 officer in the sheriff's department. He has been working with Hershey, a 6-year-old chocolate Labrador, since the dog's first day on the job.
"We ride around with each other for 12 hours a shift," Ashley said. "He is a partner, just like any human would be."
But the narcotics-detection, tracking and article-searching certified police dog is also a tool, he explained, and the risk of death on high-profile cases is still there. In the case of Hershey, Ashley said, he would lose more than a partner — he would lose a friend.
“This new law will hold the guilty parties accountable and offer better protections for these highly trained animals who are important members of our law enforcement community,” Cuomo said.
Animals that help enforce the law will now have greater protection under it, said the Watertown Daily News.