A man who shot a police dog twice will not be going to jail for what he has done.
In April 2015, Daleon Rice of Kentucky shot a German Shepherd police dog named Ernie, reports the Daily Mail.
Under Kentucky law, assaulting a police dog is a felony only if the dog dies or is unable to resume his duties. It is considered a misdemeanor otherwise, and often carries no jail time.
According to the United States Police Canine Association, Kentucky is one of only six states that consider it a misdemeanor to harm a police dog. In twelve states, it is a felony to harm or kill a police dog regardless of the circumstances.
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In Ernie's case, he made a full recovery and is back to work, letting Rice off the hook with just a misdemeanor.
Rice did end up being sentenced to 40 years in prison on other charges, but Officer Mike Lusardi and Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders are unhappy that the assault on Ernie will go unpunished.
Lusardi was previously unaware of the existing law. "I didn't understand it," he said. "To me, he's a partner, he's a police officer. He's saved my life several times."
So Lusardi and Sanders lobbied the state legislature to change the law, and a bill to that effect, sponsored by Republican Representative Diane St. Onge, was passed in 2017 by the Kentucky legislature. It is now before Republican Governor Matt Bevin, awaiting his signature.
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As for Daleon Rice, he is much luckier than Kelontre Barefield, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison in 2016 for fatally shooting a K9 police dog in Canton, Ohio, reports WXIX.
The dog, named Jethro, was shot while responding with a police officer to a store burglary. When Jethro was in the store, he was shot by Barefield, who was sentenced to 34 years for killing the dog plus an additional 11 years for aggravated robbery.
A funeral for Jethro was held at the Canton Civic Center, and was attended by K9 officers from across the country.
The National Police Dog Foundation gives details on the favored breeds for police work. "The most popular breeds are German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and occasionally mixes of these breeds. Less popular, but still used at times, are Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, and Bouvier de Flandres. Other breeds are used for detection work, if this is their sole purpose."
There is no gender preference when choosing a police dog. "Males and females both make excellent police service dogs," the Foundation adds.