“Rocco’s Law” legislation.

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“Rocco’s Law” legislation.

The bills  would amend Title 18 and Pennsylvania’s Dog Law, respectively, to toughen penalties against those who severely injure or kill a police animal.

“Rocco’s Law” would increase the offense to a second degree felony, which comes with a fine of $25,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

Senators named the legislation after the Pittsburgh police dog that was killed January 30 in the city’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. The dog was stabbed while helping officers apprehend a suspect.

The federal penalty for killing a law enforcement dog is up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $1,000. Current state law classifies the torture or killing of a police animal as a third degree felony offense punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine, but the same penalty applies to the taunting or striking of a police animal.

“This bill recognizes the fundamental differences between the two crimes and seeks to rectify the disparity by strengthening the penalty for the more serious offense,” Senator Matt Smith said.

The measure has already garnered bipartisan support from 27 senators. Its sponsors are pushing for rapid consideration of the bill.

“We have received support from over half of the Senate’s 50 members and would like to get this bill on the governor’s desk by June,” Smith added.