Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



May 26, 2021

State Senator Needleman Votes in Support of Bill that Increases Penalty for Intentional Injury of Police Animal

Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) joined the Senate’s passage of a bill that will increase the penalty for intentionally injuring a police animal or dog in a volunteer canine search and rescue team. Senate Bill 123, “An Act Increasing The Penalty For The Intentional Injury Of A Police Animal Or Dog In A Volunteer Canine Search And Rescue,” will better protect police animals.

“Police dogs are heavily trained and play vital roles in many local police departments, from assisting in missing persons cases to searching for contraband,” said Sen. Needleman. “Police departments invest years of time and thousands of dollars into their training, all the better to protect their communities, and we need to dissuade anyone with ill intentions from harming them. This bill does just that and I’m proud to support it.”

SB 123 increases the criminal penalty for intentionally injuring an officer’s animal or a volunteer canine search and rescue team’s dog while they are performing their duties under supervision. Specifically, the bill raises the penalty from a class D to a class C felony. This increases the maximum term of imprisonment from five to 10 years and increases the maximum fine from $5,000 to $10,000.

Police dogs are vital partners in law enforcement. They are specifically trained to assist police and other law enforcement personnel on the job. Their duties include but are not limited to; searching for drugs and explosives, locating missing people, finding evidence and assisting in police operations. They must be trained to remember verbal cues and hand gestures. On average, the long-term investment for each police animal is between $12,000 and $20,000. These police animals are therefore valuable resources to the communities and should be protected at all costs. They deserve all of the protection that the law can reasonably give them.

In 2011, four men were arrested in a knife fight that left a Norwalk police dog with injuries. Police dog Czar, a 3-year-old Belgium shepherd, who had been put on alert, went after one of the men, biting him in the abdomen. The dropped one of the knives but began slashing at Czar’s muzzle with the other. Czar was treated by his handler and taken to the vet. Unfortunately, due to his injuries, Czar had to be euthanized.

Czar was able to help get in between the suspect and the officer, therefore, shielding the officer from further harm. We need to give these canine officers credit and protect them like they protect our officers.