Mass Senate Approves Nero’s Law To Protect K9 Officers

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In full transparency, the following is a press release from Senate President Karen Spilka’s office submitted to SOURCE media.

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BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Senate unanimously approved yesterday, November 10, An Act allowing humane transportation of K9 partners, also known as Nero’s Law, ensuring law enforcement officers’ K-9 partners receive life-saving medical attention and transport if injured in the line of duty.

The bill, first proposed by Senator Mark Montigny, comes in response to the tragic events that took the life of New Bedford-native and Yarmouth Police K-9 Sergeant Sean Gannon and severely injured his K-9 partner, Nero.

In April 2018, Sergeant Gannon was shot and killed while serving a warrant in the Town of Barnstable. Despite the multiple empty ambulances on site, Nero had to be rushed to the animal hospital in the back of a police cruiser. Current Massachusetts law prohibits emergency medical personnel from treating and transporting animals.

Fortunately, Nero survived his injuries, but the inability to transport him showed that reform was needed to honor working dogs who risk their lives every day to serve the Commonwealth. 

“Providing emergency medical services to police dogs injured in the line of duty is both compassionate and appropriate, especially in light of what we’re asking them to do,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Service dogs play a necessary role in effective law enforcement operations, and they deserve our support. I want to thank Senator Montigny for his hard work and attention to this issue, as well as Senators Rodrigues, Timilty and Cyr for their advocacy and collaboration on this legislation.”

Nero’s Law now advances to the Massachusetts House of Representatives

“K-9 officers protect the men and women in law enforcement as well as the community at-large,” said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), lead sponsor of the bill. “These animals endure extreme danger from gun violence, narcotics, and even explosive materials. Allowing our emergency personnel to provide basic treatment and transport is a commonsense measure that honors their contributions across the Commonwealth. Sergeant Gannon was a native son of New Bedford and therefore his K9 partner Nero is part of our community’s extended family. Words cannot describe the gratitude we have for the Gannon family for their tenacious and compassionate advocacy to get this bill done.  I must also thank my colleagues Senators Walter Timilty and Mike Rodrigues for expediting this bill through the committee process.”

“This is a commonsense bill that gives proper recognition for the animal partners, like Nero, that help protect our communities, and ensures they can be cared for with dignity,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “By allowing these invaluable K-9 units to be properly treated, Nero’s Law supports K-9s, their partners, and the whole law enforcement community. Thank you to Senate President Spilka for her leadership, Senator Montigny for his diligent work on this matter, and to the Gannon family for leading the charge on this issue.”

“There was a tremendous outpouring of support for Nero’s Law from advocates, law enforcement officers, their family members, and communities from across the Commonwealth,” said state Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. “Each and every day, law enforcement professionals, including police canines, put their lives on the line to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth. It is crucial that our first responders are given the ability to treat them when they are wounded in the line of duty. I am thankful that this legislation has passed and that first responders are now able to provide emergent care to wounded police canines.” 

“Sergeant Sean Gannon was a dedicated officer of the Yarmouth Police Department known for his restraint and his quiet but firm sense of right and wrong. His tragic murder—and the life-threatening injuries sustained by his canine Nero—left the Cape and Islands in shock and grieving,” said Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro). “We rely on canines to serve alongside police officers to go where we cannot, seek out what we cannot detect, and search for the vulnerable in their most trying moments, yet existing law prohibits emergency responders from treating and transporting police canines like Nero when they are most in need. I’m proud that the Senate is honoring Sergeant Gannon’s legacy and his example by protecting our canine friends who have been our companions and partners in public safety and so much more.” 

Nero’s Law authorizes emergency medical service personnel to provide emergency treatment and transport of K-9 partners. This includes basic first aid, CPR, and administering life-saving interventions such as naloxone.

editor

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