New state law will spike penalties against those who harm a first responder animal

A good boy; a better partner.

“I spend more time with that dog than I do my family,” said Corporal John Mills of his K-9, Sparta, who is thriving as a K-9 officer with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

He’s paired with Mills every day. But Sparta’s first day on the job was almost his last.

Almost a year ago, a man tried to drown him in a canal after robbing a Port Charlotte 7-11.

“The subject grabbed him, like, around the throat and jumped in the water with the dog,” said Mills.

Sparta has moved on as if nothing happened. But Mills says his anger remains.

“There’s no difference in him doing his job and me doing my job and I get attacked for it,” he said.

K-9 Sparta (WINK News)

Mills supports Florida’s new law that spikes the penalty against anyone who hurts or kills a first responder dog or horse.

The state confirms 28 first responder animals have died in the line of duty since 2000.

Now, someone convicted of attacking a dog like Sparta could get 15 years and a $10,000 fine.

“Bring the penalties up to what it is for people,” said Mills.

Pet owner Macie Kyle agrees. “I think there should be a higher penalty for anybody who kills any kind of animal.”

Many people we spoke to feel that way, especially Mills. After all, what happened to Sparta is personal to him. He says this is a start to make sure laws protect every officer who protects us.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Briana Harvath
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