Four-legged members of law enforcement may soon benefit from new legislation that would allow emergency medical service workers to treat police canines injured in the line of duty, calling it a common sense move that would save dogs serving the community.
As the Herald’s Kathleen McKiernan reported, the bill, sponsored by Barnstable Rep. William L. Crocker, Jr., would allow first responders to treat police dogs injured on the job. Currently, Massachusetts laws penalize emergency medical technicians if they assist an animal in an emergency.
The proposed legislation would not divert resources from people. Law enforcement officers would be attended to before animals receive care. The bill would also absolve emergency personnel from liability. In addition, it allows for licensed veterinarians to provide written guidelines or provide consultation with EMTs providing animal care, and similarly gives those vets protection from post-incident liability.
The bill has the support of at least nine other legislators — Reps. Brian Ashe of Hampden, Shawn Dooley of Norfolk, Dylan Fernandes of Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket, Susan Williams Gifford of Plymouth, Hannah Kane of Worcester, David Muradian Jr. of Worcester, Sarah Peake of Barnstable and Timothy Whelan of Barnstable; and Sen. Julian Cyr of Cape & Islands.
The proposal was born with the notoriety of Nero, a Yarmouth Police K9, who was hospitalized for a week after he was shot in the face in a deadly incident in April. Officer Sean Gannon was slain April 12 while serving a warrant in Marstons Mills. Nero, who has recovered, is with the Gannon family.
As Nero lay by Gannon, a question arose as to whether first responders could help the injured animal.
“Right now in Massachusetts, if a police dog is injured he can’t be treated,” said Peter McClelland, a retired Yarmouth K9 officer and Nero’s former handler. “They can’t do anything. This will be a big help.”
“We owe it to an animal we are pulling into service to do the best we can,” Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson said. “It’s common sense.”
Both police dogs as well as military service dogs are cherished by their uniformed partners. Routinely the K9s put themselves in harm’s way. Every year, dozens are killed in the line of duty.
No, the dogs are not humans, but they are certainly much more than issued equipment. They are loyal partners who deserve some loyalty in return. Dogs like Nero are special animals and they should be treated that way.
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