Colo. governor signs law to add protections for police K-9s, horses

The law increases penalties for anyone who assaults or kills a law enforcement animal, including a hefty fine on top of paying for medical costs

By Joanna Putman

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado has introduced new legal protections for law enforcement animals KKTV reported.

House Bill 1074, which was signed by Gov. Jared Polis on April 17, categorizes police K-9s and horses under their own legal protection, imposing stricter penalties for those who harm these animals, according to the report. The new law applies to anyone who “commits the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals if the person knowingly or recklessly kills or causes serious physical harm resulting in the death of a law enforcement animal or causes serious physical harm to a degree that the law enforcement animal must be decommissioned from active duty for at least three months.”

Violations now carry a mandatory minimum fine of $2,000, plus costs for rehabilitation or replacement of the animal, and may require participation in an anger management or similar treatment program, according to the report.

El Paso County Sheriff’s Office K-9 handler Ronnie Hancock has advocated for this law following the death of his K-9 partner, Jinx, in April 2022.

“It has been a hard-fought two years, but I think that fighting for Jinx helps me get past some of the heartache of losing him,” Hancock stated at the bill signing.

Hancock noted ongoing efforts to enhance these protections further, aiming ultimately to have law enforcement animals recognized similarly to police officers, which would allow for even stronger legal safeguards during their deployment.

“If I show up on scene with my K-9, it’s like me showing up on scene with 10 other officers,” Hancock said. “The dog itself usually de-escalates situations much quicker than multiple officers.”