Law strengthening penalty for those who kill police animals heads to Senate floor

January 26, 2017

COLUMBIA — A bill that could double the penalty for those who injure or kill a police dog or horse sailed through a panel Thursday morning and is headed for discussion on the Senate floor.

The bill, Hyco’s Law, would increase the maximum prison sentence for torturing, mutilating, injuring, disabling, poisoning or killing a police dog or horse from five years to 10. It also would increase the maximum fine from $5,000 to $10,000.

Camden Democrat Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who chaired a subcomittee on the bill last week, said the goal is to leave sentencing discretion with judges, but increase the available penalty.

Sponsored by then-Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, the bill would also enable a judge to sentence someone the offender serve up to 500 hours of community service with an animal-related organization or foundation.

“Because lets face it, it’s not likely you’re going to send somebody to jail for 10 years for killing a dog,” Sheheen said.

A similar bill was introduced last year and, after making it through the Senate, stalled in the House.

“This life, this presence, this K-9 officer still is protecting and preserving the life of the officer,” Agriculture and Natural Resources Chairman Danny Verdin, R-Laurens. “There’s multiple components for us to, I believe, bring this enhanced penalty.”

The bill is named after Anderson County K-9 Hyco, after the dog was shot and killed in the line of duty in October 2015.