Police dog killers could be forced to pay for replacement

Indiana legislators are backing a proposal that would force anyone convicted of killing or permanently disabling a police dog to pay the cost of replacing the animal.

The Senate voted 42-7 on Tuesday to approve a bill similar to one that the House unanimously backed last month.

The bill's supporters say police departments face spending up to $12,000 to buy and train a dog and that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay to replace one lost because of a criminal act.

Current law makes it a felony punishable by six months to three years in prison to kill or badly injure a police dog, but judges have the option of whether to order the payment of reimbursement cost.

Locals may remember three years ago, when Mishawaka Corporal James Szuba and his k9 partner, Ricky, were killed on duty.

They were responding to a call on January 9, 2010, when a drunk driver hit their patrol car at the intersection of Fir and McKinley.

The driver, Shawn Devine, was sentenced to 31 years in prison and ordered to pay $5 million to Szuba's family.

Prosecutors say Devine had been drinking and snorting cocaine.

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