Local lawmakers propose tougher penalties for killing police dog



PITTSBURGH - Two local state lawmakers are proposing bills that would impose tougher penalties for killing a police dog.

Both lawmakers said they want to protect dogs that sacrifice so much for the community.

State Rep. Dom Costa, of Stanton Heights, has proposed a bill that would elevate the current maximum of seven years in prison to 20 years in prison.

State Sen. Matt Smith, of Mount Lebanon, is proposing a maximum term of 10 years.

"Right now, Pennsylvania law doesn't put this particular crime on the right level in terms of the punishment,” Smith said.

Officials said six other local senators have signed on as co-sponsors.

"It's something that isn't a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It's simply the right thing to do," Smith said.

These proposed bills come days after Rocco, a police K-9 officer, died after a suspect stabbed him.

John Rush, 21, is charged with the assault of Rocco, whose funeral will take place Friday at Soldiers and Sailors.

Officer Ben Himan, a K-9 handler, said he relies on his K-9, Sniper.

“He’s someone you can work with and depend on,” Himan said. “They’ll do anything that we would do. They’re one of the best tools for law enforcement.”

Sniper is one of the many K-9s who would benefit from Senate bill 1260, known as Rocco’s Law.

Brandon Hudson's web extra:

K-9 Officer Penalties (if results in death)

Federal – 10 years plus $1,000 fine

New York – Up to 4 years in prison

Ohio – 6 months to 1.5 years in jail plus $5,000 fine