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SOURCE: floridapolitics.com

A bill that would increase punishment for those targeting dogs or horses working for police and fire departments cleared its second Senate panel Monday.

SB 96, sponsored by Jacksonville Republican Aaron Bean, got the nod from Judiciary.

Bean’s proposed legislation would render targeting or killing a canine used in public safety functions a second-degree felony. Those targeting horses, meanwhile, would be subject to a third-degree felony charge.

On hand to support the legislation: CFO Jimmy Patronis.

Patronis was accompanied by an “accelerant detection” dog, a “real asset” to investigations in the Department of Financial Services.

“The resource that she provides is invaluable,” Patronis said.

Patronis is working with the Humane Society to continue a focus on adoptions on the Cabinet-level, one started by former Attorney General Pam Bondi.

The bill was inspired by a tragedy in Jacksonville last September, Bean said, when a suspect shot and killed Fang, a 3-year-old Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K-9.

“Fang was executed,” Bean said. “We need to stand with law enforcement and respect the bond between an animal and his handler.”

Widely covered by the media, Fang’s death was mourned by the community. And by November, Bean readied his bill in response.

Police unions, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the Florida Police Chiefs Association, back this legislation. Also in support: the Humane Society.

Federal legislation has protected police dogs since 2000. And other states have mulled similar legislation.

In 2018, Utah moved its own bill that, like the Bean proposal, made killing a police dog a second-degree felony. South Carolina likewise moved to enhance penalties for these crimes.

The United Kingdom likewise is exploring harsher penalties for these crimes.

After the vote Monday, both the Senate version and House version have one more committee stop before ready for the floor.

The bill has yet to get a “no” vote in any committee stop.