Penalties will get stiffer for committing crimes against police dogs under a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The bill (HB 1047) will increase the penalty from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony for “intentionally maliciously” touching, striking or causing bodily harm to dogs working with police, search-and-rescue officials or firefighters.
The increased penalty also would apply to people who harm police horses.
“In Florida, back-the-blue includes supporting our K-9s that fearlessly protect their handlers and use their unique skills to help people in ways that humans cannot,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement. “If criminals choose to intentionally harm these animals, the penalties must be harsh.”
Penalties will be bumped up from second-degree to first-degree misdemeanors for people who interfere or attempt to interfere with police dogs or horses performing their duties.
The law also will make it a third-degree felony to “knowingly and willfully” resist, obstruct or oppose police dogs or horses “by offering or doing violence” to the animals.
The measure will go into effect in October.