State lawmakers want to double penalties on criminals who torture or kill police animals.
A bill that has passed the S.C. Senate and is moving through the House would increase the maximum prison sentence to 10 years from five years. It also would raise the maximum fine to $10,000 from $5,000 for offenders convicted of willfully or maliciously torturing, mutilating, injuring, disabling, poisoning or killing a dog or horse used by law enforcement.
The bill is named for Hyco, a dog who died in the line of duty working with an Anderson County sheriff’s deputy.
Supporters say law enforcement officers want the tougher penalties for harming the animals, which are highly trained and sometimes give their lives in the line of duty.
The bill also would:
▪ Make an offender pay restitution to a law enforcement agency to cover the costs of restoring or replacing the dog or horse that was tortured, mutilated, injured, disabled, poisoned or killed.
▪ Require an offender to complete up to 500 hours of community service for an animal-related organization or foundation.
After the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill Tuesday, it now goes to the S.C. House floor.
However, it could face more debate due to another controversial provision. The legislation, as passed by the S.C. Senate, does away with an existing mandatory minimum one-year jail sentence for offenders.