(DENVER) — A bill aiming to increase the penalty for injuring or killing a law enforcement K9 or other governmental service animal has passed a House Judiciary Committee on a vote of 10-1.
House Bill 23-1286, “Increase Penalty Cruelty Police & Service Animals,” also referred to as “Jinx’s Law,” increases penalties and fines for cruelty and aggravated cruelty to service animals, certified police working dogs, and police working horses.
The bill came as a result of a petition by the family of K9 Jinx, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office K9 that was killed in the line of duty in April of 2022.
When asked what inspired the push for the bill, Julie Hancock, the wife of Jinx’s handler, Ronnie Hancock, said she was shocked to discover that K9s were not recognized under current law as sworn officers, so the injury or killing of a K9 did not come with the same penalties.
“They’re not just dogs. I mean, at home, yes, they are… just our loved ones,” Hancock said during an interview with FOX21 in March. “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.”
The bill would also make sure K9s receive immediate care when injured, as well as cover necessary costs.
The bill was first introduced on April 5, and on Tuesday, April 18, the motion passed before the House Judiciary Committee. The bill has been recommended for a hearing before the Committee as a Whole.