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“Rocco’s Law” would stiffen penalties for assaulting K-9 officers

Submitted Thu, 03/13/2014 - 9:39am by Andy Alm

HARRISBURG -- The House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Pittsburgh area State Rep. John Maher that would strengthen felony charges for anyone who deliberately harms or kills a K-9 officer in the line of duty.

Maher said the fatal stabbing of K-9 officer Rocco just six weeks ago in Pittsburgh was a stunning loss for Rocco’s police partner Officer Phil Lerza, Pittsburgh and the law enforcement community. Maher said Rocco’s violent death also revealed a weak spot in Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws.

 Under Maher’s legislation, a perpetrator would be charged with a felony of the second degree for the willful or malicious torture of a police dog, or if they, mutilate, injure, disable, poison or kill the dog. House Bill 2026 carries a maximum fine of $25,000 and 10 years in prison.

The Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police supports Maher’s legislation.

The committee unanimously approved House Bill 2026. The measure now goes to the full House where it is expected to be considered as early as next week.