A bill protecting law enforcement animals and honoring Atlantic City’s most-decorated police dog unanimously passed the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Monday.
Dano’s and Vader’s Law would make threatening to kill, maim or otherwise inflict harm upon a law enforcement animal a fourth-degree crime, punishable by as long as 18 months in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Vader was an Atlantic City K-9 since 2008 until the promotion of his partner Frank Timek to sergeant last year forced the officer out of the K-9 unit and Vader into retirement.
“Vader has apprehended dozens of criminals in our region since he began his service in 2008, but in doing so has suffered brutal physical assaults and injuries,” said bill sponsor, state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic. “By enhancing these penalties, we will send a clear message to criminal suspects that any intent to assault a police canine or any law enforcement animal will be met with severe consequences.”
The bill — which also honors Somerset County narcotics-sniffing dog Dano — now heads to the full Senate for a vote. A similar version is awaiting Assembly approval.