Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a law making it a greater crime to kill a police animal, legislation inspired by the shooting of a camera-wearing FBI dog during a shooting rampage in Herkimer County.
The so-called “Ape’s Law” was named for the two-year-old Czech German Shepherd killed by Kurt Myers as it led the way for officers who stormed an abandoned bar where Myers was hiding. Myers was killed by return fire from police who were hunting him after he killed four people and wounded two others in the Mohawk Valley in March.
“Police animals go where others will not in order to keep law enforcement and all New Yorkers safe from harm and it’s a tragedy when one is killed,” said Cuomo. “This new law will hold the guilty parties accountable and offer better protections for these highly trained animals who are important members of our law enforcement community.”
The governor added law enforcement agencies have increasingly relied on the use of animals to assist with a variety of tasks to protect New Yorkers, including crime solving as well as rescue and recovery operations.
“The animals’ specialized abilities are the result of extensive training that requires a great deal of time and resources. The killing of a police animal is both a tragic event and a serious loss to law enforcement in their work to keep New Yorkers safe,” he said.
The new law will make the killing of a police dog or a police horse while it is performing its duties a class E felony. The crime is currently a Class A misdemeanor.
The law will take effect on Nov. 1.
Cuomo on Wednesday also signed legislation that will allow police departments to waive the requirement that a police dog must be confined for 10 days after biting an individual while in the course of official duties.
Under current law, dogs that had bitten individuals are detained for a 10-day observation period as a precaution to protect against any possible rabies exposure.
As police dogs are a vital part of a police department’s mission, Cuomo said the new law will allow law enforcement to receive a waiver from a local health department — based on the dog’s up-to-date rabies vaccinations — to allow the dog to immediately return to its duties keeping New Yorkers safe. The law will take effect immediately.
Contributing: The Associated Press