(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Julie Hancock is working to create a law that would dictate stricter punishment for those who injure or kill K9s in the line of duty.

“Well, I started the petition when, obviously after Jinx was killed and… I guess you could say naïve that I didn’t realize that our K9s are not recognized as sworn deputies or officers with departments here in Colorado,” Hancock said. “So that was something that really hit my heart really hard, thinking that I would never want another family to go through or a handler and family to go through.”

Last April, the Hancock family said goodbye to their K9 Jinx, who was killed in Manitou Springs while in the line of duty.

“Right now, there really isn’t any laws on the books that will put them in prison or have any real justice for the families and again, these dogs go out and work every day with their handlers,” Hancock said. “They go on call out in the middle of the night. They work 10, 12, 14 hours with nothing more than, you know, a few head scratches and a dog treat, you know.”

Procession in April honoring Jinx after he was killed in the line of duty.

Although the time between Jinx and the Hancock family was short, the everlasting impact the K9 had on the family was clear.

“They’re not just dogs. I mean, at home, yes, they are… just our loved ones,” Hancock said. “But they go with their handler every day and they work every day alongside their handlers. And they deserve that recognition of what they sacrifice and what they do every day for our communities to keep us safe.”

One visitor at Bear Creek Dog Park, Greg Roman, commented on the deep connection dogs share with their owners.

“Anyone who’s a pet owner understands that special bond between pets,” Roman said. “And I know that our dogs add to the quality of our life. I know it’s for military and police handlers that work with their dogs, that they form that same kind of special bond. It’s a trust that’s formed that goes both ways.

Kat Tudor created a painting in memory of K9 Jinx

Hancock is hoping to promote education towards K9 support and have dogs be recognized as members of law enforcement.

“I really want our canines to be recognized as sworn deputies and officers,” Hancock said. “I know that might not happen, but… my goal is that we have stiff charges that can be brought against those that do harm to our working canines.”

K9s are able to assist their handlers in protecting Southern Colorado communities and step in when needed.

“So as far as law enforcement and security, they provide a valuable service,” Roman said. “And I think that they should be given special treatment for the work that they do.”

If you would like to support the petition towards more protection for K9 dogs, you can sign it online.

“So I would just like to have the community and our state of Colorado support, I think showing that there are a lot of people that would back something like this can help push this forward to make it happen,” said Hancock.