FLAGLER County, Fla. — Retired law enforcement K-9s in Florida will have access to more care as they live out the rest of their days out of service.
On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 226, which created a program that provides financial and medical assistance to retired law enforcement K-9s. The new law requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to contract a nonprofit organization to manage the program.
“These K-9s are essential to keeping our communities safe,” DeSantis said during a press conference.
The governor said many K-9 handlers adopt their retired K-9s due to their enduring bond. Because of this, DeSantis says some handlers could have multiple law enforcement dogs in their home, which drives up costs for veterinarian care.
The new program will provide a reimbursement of up to $1,500 annually for the veterinary expenses of retired law enforcement K-9s. It also includes regular wellness checks and other services such as parasite prevention treatments. The program’s funding will come from recurring appropriation funds.
To be eligible for the program, a retired K-9 must have been a member of the law enforcement force for at least five years. K-9s who served at least three years and were injured in the line of duty are also eligible.
The law takes effect on July 1.
DeSantis reiterated that the state of Florida has continued to support its law enforcement officers, including the four-legged ones. As an example, he mentioned the bill he signed into law last year that allows ambulances and EMTs to transport K-9s injured in the line of duty to get life-saving care.
During his speech, the governor noted that K-9s are the first responders when it comes to saving lives. They are also the ones who first put their lives on the line when it comes to fighting crime.