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Rocco’s Law awaits Governor’s Signature

June 26, 2014- Howard Ondick
HARRISBURG- Legislation sponsored by Senator Matt Smith of Allegheny County that would strengthen Pennsylvania’s law against those who would torture or kill a police dog is on its way to the governor for his signature.

"Rocco’s Law" (Senate Bill 1261) is named after the Pittsburgh canine officer that was stabbed in February while helping police apprehend a suspect. Rocco later died from his injuries.

Senate Bill 1261 would amend Pennsylvania’s Dog Law and House Bill 2026 would amend the Pennsylvania Crimes Code to toughen penalties (up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000) against anyone who severely injures, tortures, or kills a police animal. It increases the offense from a third degree felony to a second degree felony.

Currently, a third degree felony brings with it a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Senator Smith says both bills are necessary because the penalty for torturing or killing a police dog is listed in two separate areas of Pennsylvania law (the Dog Law and Crimes Code).

House Bill 2026 increases the grade for harming a police animal from a third degree felony to a second degree felony.

The House of Representatives approved SB 1261 on Tuesday. That legislation along with House Bill 2026 await the governor’s signature.

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