The State Senate approved a bill on Monday exempting police dogs from confinement if they bite a suspect in the course of their official duty. More than a year ago Senator David Carlucci introduced the bill with the goal of strengthening local law enforcement.
Under current New York State law, animals that may have exposed a person to rabies must be confined for a 10-day confinement and observation period. However, law enforcement agencies throughout the state pointed out it created a double standard for police dogs who are trained to catch fleeing suspects and are confined and quarantined each time they apprehend a suspect. The proposed change to the law would exempt the K-9 officers that visit veterinarians yearly.
"This is an important first step in making sure that our brave K-9 officers are not handcuffed on the front lines when protecting our communities and keeping us safe," said Carlucci. "By removing an unnecessary mandate, we will ensure that our police departments can effectively and more efficiently combat crime and do their jobs.”
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski plans to sponsor the bill in the Assembly during this session.
“By removing this burdensome mandate, we can ensure that our highly trained K-9 units are able to continue to protect our communities," he noted.
Last year, the Clarkstown Police Department approached Carlucci’s about getting the law updated. Police officials said the department’s K-9 officers more often track lost children, wandering Alzheimer’s patients and search for drugs or bombs than search for criminal suspects.
The term confinement and observation refers to the conditions under which apparently healthy dogs, cats, domesticated ferrets, and domestic livestock could be subjected to home confinement if they bite an individual and are not exhibiting rabies symptoms. If the county health authority does not approve home confinement, however, the 10-day confinement and observation period must take place at another facility, such as an animal shelter, veterinarian’s office, kennel or farm. Upon the conclusion of the confinement and observation period, the county health authority must verify that the animal is healthy before allowing it to be released.