New State Law Removes Unnecessary Requirement for K-9 Units
By Brandi Makuski
Law enforcement dogs will no longer be forced into quarantine after they bite a suspect, thanks to a new state law.
Gov. Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 58 into law on June 23. Prior to that, K-9 dogs who bit a suspect during the course of apprehension were taken off active duty for a period of 10 days while the animal’s health records were checked. The new bill removes that requirement.
Sheriff Mike Lukas said the old requirement caused unnecessary burdens on departments with only one K-9 dog — including the Portage Co. Sheriff’s Office, until 2014 when the department obtained a second dog and handler.
“It doesn’t really change the way we do anything, it’s just one less thing we need to worry about,” Lukas said. “Now, when [dog bites] happen, we can keep our dog working.”
Lukas said the dogs cost about $20,000 each, and it’s because of the high initial expense that dogs are extremely well cared for.
“The whole quarantine issue was meant to give time to ensure your dog is properly vaccinated,” said Chief Deputy Dan Kontos, adding dogs need to be certified annually, and work closely with veterinarians to ensure vaccinations for various illnesses, including rabies, are up to date.
Not keeping dogs healthy, he said, voids the department’s warranty on the dog.
Konots said he couldn’t say how often the department’s two K-9 dogs, Yent and Lady, have bitten suspects.
“A lot of times just seeing the dog is enough to make people stop what they’re doing,” Kontos said.