Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law establishing the Care for Retired Police Dogs program in Florida. The program will help caregivers of retired police dogs pay for veterinary costs of the dogs. It will be housed under the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and will be administered by a non-profit organization dedicated to the care of retired police dogs.
“In Florida we back the blue, and that includes the K-9s that are often the first to go into a dangerous situation,” said Governor DeSantis. “After dedicating their lives to protecting and serving our communities, it is important that we ensure that these K-9s are cared for by providing the resources necessary for handlers or adopters to afford their veterinary care.”
“This is a great bill,” said Representative Sam Killebrew. “It is the same as an NFL player playing for 8 or 9 years and they are beat up and retiring. These dogs are beat up after they serve and they need medical attention. This money is going to go a long way to help.”
The Care for Retired Police Dogs Program will provide a reimbursement of up to $1,500 of the annual veterinary costs associated with caring for a retired police dog. This includes annual wellness checks, vaccinations, parasite prevention treatments, medications, and emergency care for the animals. The program has an appropriation of $300,000 in recurring funds.
“Each one of these retired dogs, with no serious medical issues, costs about $3,000,” said Sheriff Rick Staly, Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. “Last year, we implemented supporting our retired canines, but that is the exception, and this bill will correct that and take the burden off the handlers. Not only are they partners for life, but they become family members.”
“Senate Bill 226 not only gives a chance to fund and help our deputy sheriffs as they take care of these retired warriors, but it also gives them a chance to partner with a not for profit,” said Sheriff Robert A. Hardwick, St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office. “Governor, we thank you again for signing another bill that benefits this profession and helps make this state the safest state with the safest cities to live, work, and retire.”
“As soon as I learned about the lack of funding for retired police dogs, I wanted Emma Loves K-9s to assist their handlers with food and medical expenses,” said Emma Stanford, Founder, Emma Loves K-9s. “The retired dogs have served us and our communities and I believe that they deserve the best possible care.”
For a retired service dog to qualify, an owner must show valid documentation of the dog’s retirement from law enforcement and that the dog served for 5 or more years. A dog that has served 3 or more years and was injured in the line of duty then retired is also eligible.