Proposed tougher penalties for harming police K9

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Updated: 2/06/2013 9:04 am Published: 2/05/2013 9:05 pm

Police dogs serve and protect and they wear the same badge as police officers.

Today, Oklahoma senators signed a proposed law that would make it a felony if someone hurts, injures or kills a police dog or horse.

"All of the heroic actions that K9s do, they really do the same job as police officers," said Tulsa Police Captain Travis Yates.

The proposed law is called “Creed’s Law” named after the Panama, Oklahoma K9 killed in the line of duty last year.

Police canines and their handler are considered one the more dangerous jobs on the police force.

"They can't see around corners, they don't know what they are coming up on they don't know what their motivations are,” said Yates.

In 1996, TPD K9 Officer Dick Hobson died in the line of duty chasing a robber and his dog Dino lived.

"His dog Dino bit the bad guy and went through a barrage of bullets and never got it,” said TPD K9 Sergeant Steve Middleton. "He was probably one of our finest dogs we've ever had. He would run right past police officers and go straight for the bad guy.”

Police K9s risk their lives just like police officers, "Everything they get to go to is a felony and high risk,” said Middleton.

While FOX23 News was at TPD’s K9 Unit, K9 Bosco wasn’t on the job and neither was his handler. Sergeant Middleton was humbled about his unit but wasn’t shy about his officers work ethic.

"They are all hard workers, I don't have any slackers in the squad. They will stay out there as long as it takes to take the catch bad guys. Horrible weather, terrain, heat, cold doesn't matter,” said Middleton.

A TPD K9 has not died in the line of duty since the unit started in 1962 but they’ve had close calls. K9 Snooper was shot in the head and lived while he served from 1971 to 1979.

"He was shot in the line of duty, his handler killed the suspect," said Yates. 

After K9 Officer Creed was killed in the line of duty in Panama, OK in August of 2012, Captain Yates is teaming up with other local law enforcement to to encourage lawmakers to give police K9s the same protection as police officers.

"It doesn't make sense that you can harm a community servant like a k9 and receive a light penalty,” said Yates.

Currently, in Oklahoma it is misdemeanor if someone hurts, attacks, punches or kills a K9. Senate bill 72 would make it felony and expands to poisoning a K9 such as Bartlesville Police K9 Copper.

“You want super heroes today, it's these men wearing a badge walking these dogs, chasing criminals,” said Yates.

If the law passes it would carry a five year prison sentence and a $7,500 fine. The law also expands to police horses.

Senator Rick Brinkley (R-Owasso) co-authored SB 72 with Senator Mark Allen (R-Spiro).

Tulsa police canines can’t wear a bullet-proof vest in the Midwest climate.

On Tuesday, the proposed law was assigned to the public safety committee.

The Officer Down Memorial Page website expanded to include K9s killed in the line of duty.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Michaelb - 2/18/2013 4:04 PM
0 Votes
Reading the comments here, I see the public "gets it" while the police departments are clueless in their own little world. Us vs them

Unwashed Mass - 2/7/2013 3:32 PM
1 Vote
Since this also includes horses, we might take a look at how it might have been applied when sheriff's deputies trampled spectators at this parade: and then claimed one of the injured assaulted their horse.

Unwashed Mass - 2/6/2013 12:16 PM
1 Vote
This isnt about protecting dogs. They treat their own dogs like circus animals, but it's "do as I say and not as I do."

Nickki - 2/6/2013 11:58 AM
2 Votes
It should have already BEEN a felony when the K9 was FIRST sworn-in to be an officer.

Unwashed Mass - 2/5/2013 11:26 PM
2 Votes
Also, compare the rare instances of K9s killed in the line of duty (1996 in this case) to the number of civilian pets shot by officers every year. Most include dogs chained or locked in backyards, or inside homes (and even dogs shot while inside crates) where the officer never faced any consequences for killing a family pet that was no threat to them. Hypocrites.

Unwashed Mass - 2/5/2013 11:21 PM
2 Votes
If you research K9 deaths over the years, most are due to owner negligence, ranging from dogs lapping up radiator fluid dripping from patrol cars, escaping from their pens or left in the heat. Also, since departments classify K9s as "officers" it's already a felony to injure one, so the law isnt even needed.
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