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Tough penalty for harming police dog (new law)

Published (3/25/2011)
By Mike Cook
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Roseville Police Officer John Jorgensen and his K-9 partner, Major, watch as Gov. Mark Dayton signs into law March 22 a bill that will increase the penalty for injuring public safety dogs and impose mandatory restitution on offenders who harm these animals. Major, who was stabbed four times in the back and was paralyzed while on police duty, now uses a special wheeled harness to support his rear legs to get around. Sponsors and supporters of the new law standing behind Dayton are, from left, Sen. John Harrington, Sen. Dan Hall, Public Safety Commissioner Ramona Dohman, Rep. Tony Cornish and Sen. John Marty. (Photo by Tom Olmscheid)A new law will increase the penalty for injuring public safety dogs and impose mandatory restitution on offenders who harm these animals.

Signed March 22 by Gov. Mark Dayton, the law will extend the current two-year felony for killing a public safety dog to offenses of causing “great or substantial bodily harm” to such animals, including those that cause permanent disfigurement of the animal or loss or impairment of a body organ. It also extends the gross misdemeanor offense of harming a public safety dog to cases where the dog suffers demonstrable bodily harm.

An offender shall pay restitution “for the costs and expenses resulting from the crime. Costs and expenses include, but are not limited to, the purchase and training of a replacement dog and veterinary services for the injured dog.”

Further, the law, which takes effect Aug. 1, 2011, creates a new offense whereby it is a misdemeanor to assault a public safety dog where the animal does not suffer “demonstrable bodily harm.”

Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder), who sponsors the law with Sen. Dan Hall (R-Burnsville), said the impetus for the law was Major, a German Shepherd stabbed Nov. 12 as Roseville police assisted Maplewood officers responding to a break-in.

After finding a suspect, officers heard Major crying in pain. He had been stabbed four times. He was rushed to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center for emergency surgery. While Major survived, he did not regain use of his back legs.

HF141*/ SF121/CH9

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