House OKs bill to provide injured police dogs ambulance transport, EMT care
STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. David A. Bennett to allow police dogs injured in the line of duty to get emergency first aid from EMTs and be transported by ambulance to veterinary hospitals.
The legislation (2022-H 7021A), which now heads to the Senate, is based on a Massachusetts law that was introduced in response to the shooting of a police dog in Barnstable, Mass., in 2018. The bill was signed into law there last month.
“Police dogs are some of the most loyal, untiring public servants there are. They protect and serve the public alongside human officers, sometimes at great risk to their own lives and safety. They are also valuable resources, having undergone months or years of training to be able to perform special duties. They absolutely deserve to have all the necessary emergency treatment if they get hurt in the line of duty, and no EMT should have to decline to help them or face any kind of repercussion for helping to save their lives,” said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston).
Current law allows EMTs and ambulances to be used only for people.
Representative Bennett’s bill would allow EMTs to transport police dogs injured on the job to a veterinary hospital and to provide first aid, as long as there are no humans waiting for treatment or transport.
The bill directs the Department of Health, in consultation with police, EMTs and veterinarians, to develop policies and procedures for training EMTs for safe handling and first aid for police dogs, identifying veterinary hospitals that can accept them and sterilizing ambulances for allergens following the transportation of a police dog.
In Massachusetts, the bill is called “Nero’s Law,” after Yarmouth police K-9 Nero, who was shot along with his human partner, Officer Sean Gannon, while serving a warrant. Gannon’s wounds were fatal, and Nero nearly bled to death while holed up for hours with the suspect inside his home. Nero was eventually transported in a police cruiser for treatment because the EMTs on site weren’t legally allowed to treat or transport him. He survived his injuries and now lives in retirement with Gannon’s widow.
The bill is cosponsored by House Deputy Speaker Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence), Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), House Floor Manager John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) and Rep. Thomas E. Noret (D-Dist. 25, Coventry, West Warwick).