Injured police dog witnesses bill signingby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Gov. Dayton signed a bill Tuesday to increase penalties for people who harm police dogs.
Dayton was joined at the signing ceremony by several state lawmakers, the commissioner of public safety, Roseville police officer John Jorgensen and his canine partner, Major.
Major lost the use of his hind legs after he was stabbed four times while investigating a burglary. He gets around with the aid of a small cart attached to his hindquarters.
Jorgensen said the law wasn't enacted just because of Major's injuries.
"We have had a lot of canines assaulted over the course of the last couple of years in the state of Minnesota," he said. "This legislation needed to be brought forward so ... we can better protect these dogs that are quite often the tip of the spear for us out there. We send them after the worst of the worst, and they do that honorably and with extreme loyalty."
Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul, who previously served as St. Paul's police chief, said police dogs are a vital part of law enforcement.
"They are part of that thin, blue line that keeps everybody safe in our communities," he said. "I think it is right and just that when they make a sacrifice that it's not only a sacrifice for the dog but it's a sacrifice for the handler, for the department and the whole community."
The new law means people could be sentenced to up to two years in prison and pay fines of up to $5,000 if they intentionally injure or kill a police dog.