Supporting our police officers and their K9 partners
Our police and law enforcement officers make incredible sacrifices to protect our families and communities and undertake many responsibilities outside of the public eye. That includes caring for police K9s – which assist officers in seizing drugs, tracking missing people, and detaining criminals – during their service and after their retirement. These police K9s are vital partners in ensuring public safety and spearheading the fight against crime and the fentanyl epidemic.
In my conversations with police and sheriffs across the 4th Congressional District on my 36 County Tour, I have learned that officers themselves often cover the expenses of routine veterinary visits and assume other costs. According to some estimates, approximately 40% of the lifetime veterinary expenses for police dogs occur in the last two years of their lives, meaning the handler could expect $5,000 or more in veterinary bills in the final years of a police dog’s life. That’s wrong and requires real solutions.
At a time when our police forces are still struggling to hire new officers and our law enforcement officers already have enough on their plates, they shouldn’t be expected to spend their hard-earned paychecks on routine police dog care and checkups.
That’s why I introduced legislation – the Honoring Police Officer and K9 Service Act – to help our police cover the costs of maintaining K9s in their departments and ensure that police dogs receive the quality care and treatment that they deserve after a lifetime of service. More specifically, this initiative would establish a $5,000,000 authorization for a grant program within the U.S. Department of Justice to financially assist law enforcement officers with expenses incurred by active and retired K9s.
The U.S. Attorney General would then award grants to eligible nonprofits that assist owners of former law enforcement K9s with costs associated with veterinary care, medication, or other medical expenses. Any grant recipient would further be required to deliver a detailed annual report to the U.S. Attorney General outlining how grant funds were deployed, and the Attorney General would then submit a joint report of all grant funds to Congress to ensure program accountability, efficacy, and transparency.
I am also glad to report that this legislation enjoys wide support and endorsements from major police and law-enforcement organizations across the country. The National Police Dog Foundation, the National Police Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the International Union of Police Associations, and Major County Sheriffs of America have all expressed their strong support for this bill. They have specifically underscored how the Honoring Police Officer and K9 Service Act will make a real difference in the lives of police K9s and alleviate financial stress for police departments so that they can focus on doing their jobs and protecting our communities.
Our police and law enforcement officers – and their K9 partners – put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities and keep our families safe. I am encouraged that my bill will give our police officers the resources and the peace of mind to protect our families and deliver the high-quality care that police dogs deserve on the job and during retirement. As a strong ally of our law enforcement community, I will always back the blue 100%, which includes our four-legged friends and heroes.
We are government together, and your thoughts and opinions matter to me. Please contact my office at Feenstra.House.Gov or by phone at 202-225-4426 if I can ever be of assistance. I am proud to represent our families, farmers, main street businesses, and rural communities in Congress.
Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, represents
Iowa’s Fourth District in the U.S. House.