MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Gov. Robert Bentley said a new state law provides important protection to police dogs and rescue dogs because they safeguard the public.
"Actually, they are officers," Bentley said Wednesday during a ceremonial bill signing on the Capitol lawn. He was surrounded by dogs and handlers from the Homewood Police Department and the Autauga County Rescue Squad.
The bill by Republican Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood passed on the Legislature's last meeting day May 20. The governor officially signed the bill several days ago, but he held the ceremony Wednesday to celebrate with some of the people who pushed for the new law.
DeMarco said Alabama had a law against killing a police dog, but nothing other than animal cruelty laws when a police or rescue dog was injured or harassed.
The new law provides a range of penalties from a maximum of a year in jail for a minor injury to a maximum of 10 years for a serious injury. Interfering with or harassing a police or rescue dog can bring up to a year in jail. The bill also provides for restitution, including the replacement cost of the dog.