“Tanja’s Law” Receives Approval from the Georgia Senate
ATLANTA (March 10, 2015) |
Senate Bill 72, which determines new punishments for harming or killing a law enforcement animal, passed the Georgia State Senate on Friday, February 20. The legislation is also called “Tanja’s Law” after a Walker County K-9 who was killed in June 2014. Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga) was the bill’s sponsor, which passed by a vote of 46 to 3.
“Police dogs and animals, like Tanja, dutifully serve and always protect both those in the community and the police officers they work beside. When a police animal is killed in the line of duty it is a significant loss for the department, both emotionally and financially. Not only does it take a great deal of resources to train a police animal it also takes a great deal of time for the handler to train the animal, which often results in a unique bond. This legislation seeks to help lessen the loss by recognizing the importance of police animals and provide restitution to the police departments,” said Sen. Mullis.
Senate Bill 72 will enforce harsher punishments for individuals who harm or kill a law enforcement animal that is performing official duties. The new punishments are as follows:
• Intentionally causing physical harm to a law enforcement animal is considered a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature that is punishable by up to 12 months in prison, a fine up to $5,000, or both.
• Using a deadly weapon, or other object or body part, to cause serious physical injury to a law enforcement animal is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature that is punishable from six to 12 months in prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both.
• Intentionally shooting a law enforcement animal with a firearm, or causing debilitating physical injury to a law enforcement animal, is a felony that is punishable from one to five years in prison, a fine up to $15,000, or both.
• Intentionally causing the death of a law enforcement animal is a felony punishable from 18 months to five years in prison, a fine up to $20,000, or both.
Offenders must also pay restitution in the amount of associated veterinary bills or the cost of replacing the law enforcement animal in addition to the above penalties. The cost of training such an animal, as well as training its handler(s), will be added in to the replacement costs.
Any law enforcement animal who dies as a result of physical harm, or by weapon or firearm, will undergo forensic pathology tests conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. Senate Bill 72 does not consider euthanasia for humane purposes as part of this bill.
The legislation has now transferred to the House of Representatives for consideration.
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Sen. Jeff Mullis serves as Chairman of the Rules Committee. He represents the 53rd Senate District, which includes Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties and portions of Chattooga County. He can be reached at his office in Atlanta at 404.656.0057 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.