This February, Georgia’s state senate passed Bill 72, which determines the new punishments for harming or killing a law enforcement animal. “Tanja’s Law” was put in place after a Walker County K-9 dog was killed in June 2014.
All police dogs and animals serve to protect the citizens of their community in the same manner a police officer does. They work side by side to ensure the law is being upheld and to maintain safety. Senator Jeff Mullins states, “When a police animal is killed in the line of duty it is a significant loss for the department, both emotionally and financially.”
Training a puppy to become a police dog requires an extensive amount of resources and time for both the handler and the trainer. The training process eventually creates a unique bond between handler and dog that you would see between two partners. In order to acknowledge the loss and importance of police animals, legislature decided to put the law in place to provide restitution for police departments.
A similar law was created in Oregon, Dojie’s Law, after a water rescue dog was blinded in one eye by and animal control officer. The state now enforces a statewide code of conduct and standard training for all animal control officers to avoid harm or death to all animals.
What is the punishment?
Since its origination, Tanja’s law has been scaled back. The original document sought to punish those who killed a police animal with second-degree murder, which can lead to 10 to 30 years in prison for killing a police animal. The new punishments in Senate Bill 72 are:
-Intentionally causing physical harm to a law enforcement animal is considered a misdemeanor of a high & aggravated nature, punishable by up to 12 months in prison, fined up to $5000, or both.
-Using a deadly weapon or other object or body part to cause serious physical injury on a law enforcement animal is also a misdemeanor of a high & aggravated nature, punishable by 6 to 12 months in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.
-Intentionally shooting a law enforcement animal with a firearm, causing serious physical injury is a felony, punishable from 1 to 5 years in prison, a $15,000 fine, or both.
-Intentionally causing death of a law enforcement animal is a felony punishable from 1 to 5 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both.
In addition, offenders must pay restitution in the amount of veterinary bill, or the cost of replacing the animal in the department.
The installment of Tanja’s Law will hopefully instill the importance of law enforcement dogs within the community of Walker County, and the state of Georgia. These animals are trained to serve and protect the citizens of their department; creating this law shows how important law enforcement animals are to all of us by making those who harm or kill them accountable for their actions.