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Bill that protects police dogs goes to Senate floor

UTAH CAPITOL –  A bill that stiffens the penalties for someone who shoots and kills a police dog sails through a committee.  It had a lot of support from police and people whose lives have been benefited by police dogs.

Shawn Bailey can remember the day his son disappeared in 2014.  Officers scoured the area, but couldn’t find the boy, until an off-duty K-9 officer and his dog were able to find him in a short amount of time.  He became emotional while saying, “There is more than just the [dollar] figure.  There’s the inevitable cost of human lives.”

Unified Police Lieutenant Chad Reyes used to handle Dingo, who was shot and killed in 2017.  He told the committee he would give anything to have Dingo back.  He remembers how Dingo saved his life on two occasions.  “Once, an armed fugitive came out of an apartment, had his hand on a loaded gun the entire time that was concealed in his pocket.  Dingo engaged him before he was able to use that weapon on me,” Reyes says.

Another officer who came to support the bill is Unified Police Sergeant Luis Lovato.  He doesn’t like saying the name of the man who shot and killed his dog, Aldo in 2016.   He says his dog was shot by a man who was hiding in a closet.  “Definitely, without him, there is no way I would be here. I didn’t know where the guy was.  He would have had me dead to rights,” Lovato says.

Currently, intentionally killing a police dog is a third degree felony.  Senator Jani Iwamoto says her Senate Bill 57 would bump it up to a second degree felony.  “The value, to me, of these police animals do deserve to be enhanced up to a second degree,” she says.

The bill passed through committee by a five to one vote.