(Indianapolis) November 9, 2023 — The Honoring Police Officer and K9 Service Act of 2023 (H.R.5885) is federal legislation that would establish a grant program to help offset the cost of veterinary care of retired federal, state, and local police dogs. The bill was introduced by Rep. Randy Feenstra (IA-4) in the U.S. House of Representatives on October 3, 2023 and has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. The bill’s text can be found here.
The bill appropriates five million dollars for fiscal year 2024, with funds awarded on a competitive basis. Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) status and a demonstrated history of providing medical financial support to the handlers of retired police dogs, would be eligible to apply. Grant recipients would be responsible for submitting detailed annual reports on how they used the awarded funds
During their careers, police dogs are called on to work in uniquely high-stress, physically demanding situations. As a result, they’re prone to developing medical conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and separation anxiety. Treatment for these conditions can be costly. Total hip replacement surgery (to treat dysplasia), for example, costs an estimated $14,000 dollars.
Unlike their human counterparts, police K9s don’t receive pensions. And though some states, like Florida, have programs to provide veterinary care for retired police dogs, these benefits aren’t offered nationally. In these cases, caregivers must either pay out-of-pocket or work with a dedicated nonprofit to help defray the cost of veterinary care. The Honoring Police Officer and K9 Service Act would help close this gap by providing these K9 caregivers with a reliable stream of income for veterinary expenses.
Police dogs provide a priceless service to our communities. They detect critical crime scene evidence, search for explosives and illegal drugs, locate missing people, and apprehend suspects. This bill would honor that service by helping them maintain access to optimal veterinary care, thus allowing them to live their retired years in good health. Given the level of sacrifice and service these dogs demonstrate during their lives, five million dollars is a reasonable amount to ask. With an estimated 10,000 police dogs set to retire each year, the need is great.
For these reasons, we urge Congress to pass the Honoring Police Officer and K9 Service Act of 2023.
About The National Police Association: The National Police Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit Educational/Advocacy organization. For additional information visit www.nationalpolice.org.