St. Augustine, FL – Law enforcement K9s injured in the line of duty in the state of Florida can now be transported by ambulance and treated by emergency medical personnel under a new law.
Florida Governor Greg DeSantis signed off on Senate Bill 388 during a gathering at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office (SJCSO) on Friday morning, WTVT reported.
“It will end up potentially saving the lives of some of our K9s,” DeSantis said, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Under the new law, paramedics will no longer be barred from transporting injured K9s to emergency veterinarians by ambulance, provided no human is in need of medical attention at the time, according to the paper.
Paramedics will also be authorized to render aid as a result of the law change.
“We all have a soft spot in our hearts for our four-legged friends,” DeSantis said just before endorsing the bill, according to WTVT. “They’re really incredible, incredible friends.”
“The police use K9s very effectively,” the governor added. “They respond to fires, they find missing persons, they detect narcotics, they’re able to identify explosives…these K9s use their unique abilities to save lives and protect our communities throughout Florida, and in some cases, they’re the ones to first to put their lives on the line.”
DeSantis said he is proud to sign the bill into law.
The bill was sponsored by former K9 handler Senator Tom Wright (R-New Smyrna Beach), the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
“I know how much…these dogs mean to these officers,” Wright said. “They are part of their family, and we need to take care of them.”
The new law will go into effect on July 1.
DeSantis also enacted legislation in 2019 that upped the penalties for suspects convicted of killing or seriously injuring law enforcement K9s, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
The second-degree felony offense now carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.