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Update: Individuals Who Intentionally Harm or Kill a Police Dog Will Face Harsher Penalties in TN - National Humane Education Society

June 12, 2022

To Governor Lee for signing Joker’s Law to increase the penalties for injuring a police dog


In the fall of 2021, Deputy Eduardo Choate and K-9 partner Joker from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department in Tennesee responded to a robbery call. Law enforcement officers and K-9s, like Deputy Choate and Joker, put themselves in harm’s way daily. On that day, Joker was seriously wounded after being shot by one of the juvenile offenders. Thankfully, he has recovered, but that encounter led Representative Mark Hall and other lawmakers to examine the existing laws and provide penalties befitting the crime. In this instance, they sought to increase the penalties individuals will face when they intentionally injure or kill a police dog.

Governor Lee signed Joker’s Law on June 1, 2022, and it goes into effect on July 1, 2022. According to the new law, any juvenile offenders (14-17 years of age) who knowingly kill or cause serious injury to a “police dog, fire dog, search and rescue dog, service animal, or police horse” may be tried as adults. Additionally, individuals may face a Class B felony charge of 3-8 years in prison and a possible fine not exceeding $25,000 under Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-111(b)(2).

Take Action: Tennessee residents, please contact Governor Lee today to show your support for Joker’s Law. You can contact Governor Lee by phone at (615) 741-2001 or mail a thank you letter to:

The Honorable Governor Bill Lee
Governor of Tennessee
State Capitol, 1st Floor
600 Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37243

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