New law will help care for retired police dogs in Florida

BUNNELL, Florida. – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Friday morning to help pay for medical and veterinary expenses for retired police dogs.

Below Senate Bill 226the Care for Retired Dogs program allows caregivers of retired K9s to be reimbursed up to $1,500 per year for the dogs’ veterinary costs.

“We recognize that our law enforcement community needs to include recognizing our four-legged friends, and we do that here today,” Governor DeSantis said. “Often only the manager will be able to adopt each time [a K9] retires because he doesn’t want to go anywhere else. They want to be around this manager. So now what we’re saying in Florida is we’re going to step up. We will provide support for these K9s.

Governor DeSantis called the dogs “contributors” to helping keep communities safe.

The governor said $300,000 has been set aside for this program and the reimbursement money will be administered by Emma loves K9s. Emma Stanford, a teenager from Flagler County, attended the signing of the bill. She founded the nonprofit that raises funds for active and retired law enforcement dogs.

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“As soon as I learned of the lack of funding for retired police dogs, I wanted Emma Loves K9 to help their handlers with food and medical expenses. I wanted to help get the bill passed in any way I could. The retired dogs have served our community and I believe they deserve the best possible care,” Stanford said.

In 2021, Governor DeSantis signed SB 388 to support injured dogs in the line of duty. The bill allowed ambulances and paramedics to transport and treat injured police dogs during protection.

Sheriffs recognized at the event thanked Governor DeSantis for signing a bill that supports law enforcement and their extended family members.

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“Each of these retired dogs, with no serious medical issues, costs around $3,000,” said Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly, “Last year we implemented support for our retired dogs, but that’s the exception, and this bill will fix that and ease the burden on Not only are they partners for life, but they become members of the family.

“Senate Bill 226 not only provides the opportunity to fund and assist our Deputy Sheriffs as they care for these retired warriors, but also provides them with the opportunity to partner with an organization to nonprofit,” St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick said.

For a retired service dog to be eligible for the program, an owner must present valid documentation that the dog has retired from law enforcement and that the dog has served for 5 years or more. A dog that has served 3 years or more and was injured in the line of duty and then retired is also eligible.

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