Bennett bill would allow injured police dogs ambulance transport, EMT care
STATE HOUSE — Police dogs provide vital services and are just as much at risk as their human partners when they work to protect public safety.
But unlike their human partners, they are not entitled to be transported in an ambulance or treated by EMTs if they are injured in the line of duty.
Rep. David A. Bennett has introduced a bill that would rectify that situation, allowing EMTS to provide emergency care and transport injured police dogs to a veterinary facility to get the treatment they need.
“Police dogs are some of the most loyal, untiring public servants there are. They protect and serve the public alongside human officers, sometimes at great risk to their own lives and safety. They are also valuable resources, having undergone months or years of training to be able to perform special duties. They absolutely deserve to have all the necessary emergency treatment if they get hurt in the line of duty, and no EMT should have to decline to help them or face any kind of repercussion for helping to save their lives,” said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston).
Current law allows EMTs and ambulances to be used only for people. Representative Bennett’s legislation (2020-H 7124) would allow EMTs to transport police dogs injured on the job to a veterinary hospital and to provide emergency care such as administering oxygen and bandaging or applying pressure to wounds, as long as there are no humans waiting for treatment or transport. The bill would protect EMTs who provide such care from liability, and would also allow them to require a law enforcement member to accompany the dog in the ambulance.
The bill is based on a similar bill pending in Massachusetts, which was introduced in response to the shooting of a police dog in Barnstable, Mass., in 2018.
In Massachusetts, the bill is called “Nero’s Law,” after Yarmouth K-9 unit Nero, who was shot along with his human partner, Officer Sean Gannon, while serving a warrant. Gannon’s wounds were fatal, and Nero nearly bled to death while holed up for hours with the suspect inside his home. Nero was eventually transported in a police cruiser for treatment because the EMTs on site weren’t legally allowed to treat or transport him. He survived his injuries and now lives in retirement with Gannon’s widow.
The bill was suggested to Representative Bennett by the animal advocacy and assistance organization Defenders of Animals.
“Defenders of Animals appreciates Representative Bennett introducing this bill. Illinois, Mississippi, and New York have allowed first responders to treat and transport injured police dogs in emergency situations,” said Defenders of Animals Director Dennis Tabella.
The bill was introduced Jan. 16 and is cosponsored by Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton) and Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick).
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903