Tougher Penalties For Killing Police Animals Approved

Final approval comes for a measure that would give prison time to anyone found guilty of willfully killing a K-9, seeing-eye dog or other law enforcement or assistance animal.

The bill designated the offense as a felony. It goes to Governor Easley's desk after the Senate unanimously agreed to the House's decision to remove a provision that would have also made it a felony to attempt to kill such an animal.

The measure also makes the killing or the serious injury of such an animal an aggravating factor when determining punishment for another crime.

The bill was filed by Nash Senator A-B Swindell after last year's death of Danny, a K-9 police dog in Rocky Mount. The dog was shot and killed while chasing a suspect wanted on gun and cocaine possession charges.

The suspect was charged with assault on a law enforcement animal, which is the lowest grade of felony but doesn't allow for prison time on a first offense.