TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 1047 to increase criminal penalties for harming, harassing, or willfully resisting an animal working with police officers, firefighters, or search and rescue teams.
“Florida’s K-9s play heroic roles in responding to emergencies, apprehending criminals, and keeping our communities safe,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “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. If criminals choose to intentionally harm these animals, the penalties must be harsh.”
HB 1047 increases the criminal penalty for maliciously touching, striking, or causing bodily harm to a police, fire, or search and rescue canine or police horse from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. The bill also increases from a second- to a first-degree misdemeanor the penalty for maliciously harassing, teasing, or interfering with a police, fire, or search and rescue canine or police horse.
HB 1047 also makes it a third-degree felony to resist, obstruct, oppose, or threaten violence against a police canine or horse working together with an officer.
This bill builds on legislation signed by the Governor in 2019 which raised the crime of harming or killing a police K-9 or horse to a second-degree felony. In 2021, the Governor also signed legislation to allow emergency service vehicles to transport injured police canines to a veterinary clinic to ensure they receive quick medical attention.