Update (6/12/22): Governor Lee signed Joker’s Law on 6/1/22. The law is effective July 1, 2022.
Update (11/4/2021): According to a recent news article, the updated bill language states that convicted individuals will face a Class B felony penalty, resulting in 8-30 years in prison and a fine not exceeding $25,000.
October 14, 2021
To Representative Mark Hall for seeking to penalize those who harm police dogs in Tennessee.
Law enforcement officers and their canine partners have a special bond. It is a relationship that only those in the K-9 unit can understand. These amazing working dogs help keep communities safe as they work side by side with their human partners. Some K-9s are fortunate to wear ballistic vests that protect their vital organs while on duty. Sadly, not all K-9s receive these vests due to budget constraints. This critical piece of equipment can be lifesaving when in pursuit of volatile individuals who choose to harm the K-9s pursuing them. In 2000, the Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act was passed in the hopes of deterring individuals from harming police animals. Anyone found guilty of maliciously wounding a police animal would face up to a year in jail. According to 18 U.S. Code § 1368, “If the offense permanently disables or disfigures the animal, or causes serious bodily injury to or the death of the animal, the maximum term of imprisonment shall be 10 years.”
In 2022, Tennessee Representative Mark Hall (R-District 24) hopes to draft a bill that will increase the penalty for intentionally injuring a police dog in the wake of the shooting of Joker, a K-9 from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department. Thankfully, Joker is recovering from his serious injury, but that has prompted lawmakers to evaluate how to keep incidents like Joker’s shooting from occurring. They are proposing stricter penalties against those found guilty of harming a K-9. The penalty would be increased from one year to three years in prison upon conviction.
Take Action: Tennessee residents, if you believe that individuals who commit crimes against police animals should receive stricter penalties, please contact your representative today!
Other ways you can help:
⬤ Support organizations who donate ballistic vests to K-9s
⬤ Hold a fundraising drive to provide life-saving vests to your local law enforcement K-9s