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Is it a Felony to Injury Police Dog in Kentucky?

Posted on March 12, 2017 in General Criminal Law Issues - Northern KY

The state Senate passed a bill which makes a Felony for assaulting a police dog.  This bill was approved last Monday and sent it to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin for his signature.

Kentucky is one of six states that consider it a misdemeanor to harm a police dog, according to the United States Police Canine Association. Twelve states make it a felony to harm or kill a police dog regardless of the circumstances, while the penalties in 23 states depend on how bad the dog was harmed.

“Most of the states are falling in line with protections human beings would have as well,” Ferland said.  Unfortunately, those in favor fail to align the two.  You see, under current law in Kentucky is a misdemeanor to harm another person, not a felony.  It is only a felony if  you harm a police or other law enforcement officer.   It is also a felony if the person has serious physical injury or if the defendant uses a deadly weapon.  The new law places the injury to a police dog as similar to injury to a human.

“I didn’t understand it. To me, he’s a partner, he’s a police officer,” Officer Lusardi said.  this Officer Lusardi is discussing one particular case where the charge to injuring the dog is a misdemanor.  It seems that all stories focus on one or two individual cases and the commitment of the police and the police dogs.  The reality is that in the United States, we have the right to confront our accusers under the 5th Amendment to the Constitution.  When the accuser is an animal, it is difficult to cross examine a dog.

The suspect in that case also received no jail time for the assault, but was later arrested on other charges, according to Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders.  Clearly and rightfully, Sanders supports the police, both human and canine.  Like many other PC laws, it is hard to not be in support.  That said, in each case where the defendant harmed a police animal, there were significant other felonies for which they were charged.   In the specific case often cited by Mr. Sanders regarding Daleon Rice and the police dog, Ernie, the defendant is serving 40 years on his charges.  This begs, Do we really need to add another felony charge to this man, or anyone else, for a dog

While I do personally love my dog and many animals, I also see this as a slippery slope.  Do we need more felonies?   It seems there is currently a push to make any mistreatment of animals a felony.

This article is largely an editorial by criminal defense attorney Michael Bouldin.