A South Carolina Senate panel has advanced a proposal increasing the maximum jail time and fines for those who hurt or kill police dogs and horses.
Thursday’s vote sends the measure, nicknamed “Hyco’s Law,” to the full Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The bill is named after an Anderson County Sheriff’s Department K-9 dog that was shot and killed while chasing carjacking suspects in October 2015.
“The public doesn’t always realize the lives that are saved and the incidents that aren’t further exacerbated because of the presence of the animal,” former State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart said. “Their service is very important.”
The bill would increase the maximum prison sentence for hurting or killing police animals from 5 years to 10 and the highest fine from $5,000 to $10,000. It would also require that anyone convicted for injuring, torturing or killing a police animal must repay its restoration and replacement costs. The bill also adds the option for up to 500 hours community service at an animal-related nonprofit.
Roughly 10 service animals are killed in action nationwide each year, Stewart said.
“(K-9s) are a very expensive proposition. It’s not just the purchase price and training, but you have to maintain that training,” Stewart said. “If something happens to one of these animals, it’s a great expense to replace it.”
The bill will be taken up at the full Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee next week.