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5 Facts About Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act

By    |   Monday, 29 Jun 2015 07:04 PM

The Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000, made harming police animals — such as narcotic sniffing dogs or police horses — a federal rather than state offense. The bill came in response to the approximate eight police canines that were killed between 1998 and 1999, reported ABC News.

“We’re hoping that once people hear about the new law and the punishment they will face, that they will be deterred from hurting a federal law enforcement animal. Before, the animals were classified as a piece of equipment, like a computer, or a police car,” Russell Hess, then U.S. Police Canine Association director said at the time of the bill’s passing, according to ABC News.

Here are five facts about the law.

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1. The Bill Applies a Range of Penalties
Under the bill, “maliciously” harming, or attempting to harm, a police animal could result in only a fine or less than one year in prison. However, causing crippling or serious harm to a police animal could lead to 10 years of prison time.

2. ‘Police Animal’ Has a Broad Definition
According to the bill, a police animal is any animal “employed by a federal agency (whether in the executive, legislative, or judicial branch). Animals protected under this legislation include animals used by the Secret Service, FBI, and the police in drug operations, search and rescue missions, and other operations. Police horses also are protected.

3. The Bill Was the First to Protect Police Animals
“Up until now, there were no laws protecting these animals or discouraging criminals from assaulting or even killing them,” Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill) said in 2000, according to the Chicago Tribune. Representative Weller introduced the bill to the U.S. House of Representatives. Before the passing of Weller’s legislation, there were no such federal laws, though 27 states had statutes protecting police animals.

4. Prior to the Law, Animals Injuries Were Considered Property Damage
Before the passage of the Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act, individuals who harmed or killed police animals were only subject to property damage penalties, which are mostly monetary. The bill acknowledged the importance of animals in law enforcement and deemed police animals as animals rather than equipment.

5. The Bill had Bipartisan Support
Though introduced by a Republican, the bill had widespread bipartisan support. Republicans from Connecticut, Arizona, Washington and New York cosponsored the bill, as did Democrats from California, Arizona and New Jersey.

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The Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000, made harming police animals - such as narcotic sniffing dogs or police horses - a federal rather than state offense.
law enforcement, animal protection
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2015-04-29
Monday, 29 Jun 2015 07:04 PM
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