INDIANAPOLIS – Fargo’s and Hyco’s Law (H.3247) is a South Carolina bill that would stiffen penalties for harming, mistreating, or killing a law enforcement K-9 dog or horse. It was re-introduced by Rep. Neal Collins (SC-5) last year and has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. Rep. Collins originally introduced this bill in 2016 after two K-9s named Fargo and Hyco were shot and killed in the line of duty. The bill’s text can be found here.
Under current South Carolina law, it’s a felony to torture, mutilate, intentionally injure, or kill a police animal. The penalty, which is the same as for harming a family pet, includes a maximum fine of $5,000 and a prison term of five years. If enacted, H. 3247 would increase the maximum fine to $20,000 and the prison term to 10 years. Offenders would also be obligated to repay the law enforcement agency for all costs associated with replacing the animal; and at the court’s discretion, may be required to perform one year of animal-related community service.
Misdemeanor charges can be brought for intentionally taunting, tormenting, striking, or drugging a police animal. It currently carries a maximum $1,000 fine, imprisonment of up to six months, or both. H.3247 would increase the maximum fine to $5,000 and extend the prison sentence to five years.
At a time when law enforcement officers are increasingly being targeted with violence, their animal partners — especially police K9s — are also being placed in greater harm’s way.
Like their human handlers, police dogs undergo rigorous training and work long hours. They help keep billions of dollars of drugs off our streets, locate missing residents, apprehend suspects, search for crime scene evidence, and detect explosives. Police horses are especially valuable for crowd control scenarios and in helping officers make arrests. Police K-9s and horses also play a critical role in public outreach and in bridging gaps that may be present in police-community relationships.
Police officers share a deep bond with their K9s and horses. When one of these animals is harmed or killed, it takes an emotional toll on them, as well as their agencies, families, and communities.
There is also the economic aspect of acquiring and caring for a police animal. Training for a police dog can cost $15,000 or more, not including costs associated with life-saving equipment like protective vests, customized squad cars, special working dog diets, and veterinary bills.
“Police K9s and horses are vital members of law enforcement teams and deserve an added layer of legal protection,” said Paula Fitzsimmons, Legislative Director, National Police Association. “Fargo’s and Hyco’s Law would send a clear message that perpetrating violence on these animals will not be tolerated,” Fitzsimmons added.
The National Police Association commends Rep. Collins for re-introducing Fargo’s and Hyco’s Law and urges the South Carolina House of Representatives to pass it.
About The National Police Association: The National Police Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit Educational/Advocacy organization. For additional information visit NationalPolice.org.