It’s a well-known trope that when a dog dies in a movie it’s significantly more emotionally damaging then when a human dies. I mean I don’t know about you, but Marley and Me had me feeling all kinds of ways. Is this any less true in reality, though? What happens when your dog is not only your partner in crime, but your partner in solving crime?
Between the years 2004 and 2014 the U.S lost over 100 dogs in the line of duty. A harrowing number, considering that dogs that serve in the K9 unit are considered to be another member of the police force, and furthermore cost upwards of $10,000 to train and certify. So surely the punishment that comes to those who intentionally harm a canine is immense. Well, that’s where you’d be wrong. Under current standing, those who intentionally kill a member of the K9 unit are only charged with a third degree felony. This means that the max sentencing they can receive is five years in a federal prison, and a $5,000 fine — a seemingly small price to pay considering the loss a police department may suffer.
Luckily for K9 units everywhere one highly determined young girl named Emily and an equally determined Senator (Senator Iwamoto) have dedicated years to changing the status quo. As a sophomore in high school, Emily began working with Senator Iwamoto, Lt. Reyes, and Sgt. Lovato to push the bill S.B.057 into the 2018 legislative session. This bill would increase the conviction to a second degree felony, which includes assault with a deadly weapon and increases the penalty to 1-15 years in federal prison and a $10,000 fine, finally bringing some semblance of justice and equality to our furry four legged officers. As of January 29, 2018 the bill entered the Utah Senate Judicial Committee where the bill passed out of committee 5-1. The bill is now waiting on the Senate Floor for hearing.
Thanks to the compassion and dedication of Emily, not only will justice be rightfully served if the bill passes into law, but all of South Salt Lakes police and fire K9 units will be provided with ballistic vests, similar to those that the officers wear. This is a great feat considering that many task forces do not have the funds to supply them. Beyond that, Emily serves as a Draper Police Explorer and had the privilege of attending the FBI Youth Leadership Program in Quantico. As an aspiring FBI K-9 Special Agent, Emily has paved the way to safety for those who tirelessly serve to protect others.
For more Information:
Utah State Code titled UCA 76-9-306
Copy of the draft bill: https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/SB0057.html