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Protecting police animals: New Florida law going in effect Oct. 1

Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – They’re here to protect and serve right alongside their human partners and, beginning Tuesday, the punishment for hurting or killing a police K9 becomes even more serious.

SB-96 stems from an incident where a police dog was killed in the line of duty. K9 Fang was shot and killed during a carjacking in Jacksonville last year and supporters pushed for stricter consequences.

The new law makes it a second-degree felony, up from a third-degree felony, for people who kill or severely injure police, fire or search-and-rescue dogs. The law also applies to police horses.

Those who break the law could now spend up to 15 years in prison instead of five.

Tampa Police Department K9 Officer Britt Martinez explains her dog Taz is her number one partner in a job that could take a turn in a matter of seconds.

“That’s specifically what they are here to do is to help us catch the bad guys, and if we can’t also help to protect them, we are doing them a disservice,” Officer Martinez said.

The law goes into effect Oct. 1.

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