A bill which reached the South Carolina House floor on Wednesday would double the penalties on anyone who tortures or intentionally kills police animals.
House Judiciary Committee members on Tuesday approved legislation that would increase the maximum prison sentence from 5 years to 10 years and double the fine to $10,000. The proposal is named “Hyco’s Law” after an Anderson County K9 that was shot and killed while chasing a suspect.
The bill passed the Senate last year, but House supporters did not like that the Senate eliminated the current one-year minimum prison sentence, instead leaving it the judge’s discretion.
“This is a bill that needs to be out there,” State Rep. Eddie Tallon, R-Spartanburg, said. “The one-year sentence is what we have now… and we don’t need to take that out.”
However, State Rep. David Weeks, D-Sumter, argued the state has been moving away from mandatory minimum sentences the past decade. He asked his colleagues to wait until the Sentencing Reform Oversight Committee released its final recommendations on minimum jail time requirements. However, Weeks ultimately supported the bill.
Despite being named after a fallen K-9 dog, the penalties could also cover suspects who attack and injure police horses.
The measure will likely be taken up on the House floor next week, although lawmakers could try to reach a vote as soon as Thursday.