Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Into Law Creating Care for Retired Police Dogs Program

At an event in Bunnell at the end of last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a proposal from state Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, and state Rep. Sam Killebrew, Winter Haven, to create a program to care for retired police dogs.

“The program will help caregivers of retired police dogs pay for veterinary costs of the dogs. The program is housed under the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and will be administered by a non-profit organization dedicated to the care of retired police dogs,” the governor’s office noted.

“In Florida, we back the blue, and that includes the K-9s that are often the first to go into a dangerous situation,” said DeSantis. “After dedicating their lives to protecting and serving our communities, it is important that we ensure that these K-9s are cared for by providing the resources necessary for handlers or adopters to afford their veterinary care.”

“The years of intense training and demanding requirements can take a heavy toll on law enforcement K-9s,” said Powell. “This legislation is a small repayment for the years of service these dogs have given. It ensures that a modest amount of funding is available to help pay for veterinary care as the canines retire and physical ailments due to aging or previous on-the-job injuries begin to appear.”

“This is a great bill,” said Killebrew. “It is the same as an NFL player playing for 8 or 9 years and they are beat up and retiring. These dogs are beat up after they serve and they need medical attention. This money is going to go a long way to help.”

Powell and Killebrew were able to get their bill through the Legislature with no opposition.

The bill “will provide reimbursement for up to $1,500 of annual veterinary costs associated with caring for a retired law enforcement or corrections dog by the former handler or qualified adopter who incurs the costs” and “will be administered and managed by a not-for-profit corporation in a contractual arrangement with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) after a competitive grant award process.”

“Each one of these retired dogs, with no serious medical issues, costs about $3,000,” said Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly. “Last year, we implemented supporting our retired canines, but that is the exception, and this bill will correct that and take the burden off the handlers. Not only are they partners for life, but they become family members.”

“Senate Bill 226 not only gives a chance to fund and help our deputy sheriffs as they take care of these retired warriors, but it also gives them a chance to partner with a not for profit,” said St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick. “Governor, we thank you again for signing another bill that benefits this profession and helps make this state the safest state with the safest cities to live, work, and retire.”

Kevin Derby
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