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Texas Will Now Allow Retired Police Dogs To Be Adopted, Not Sold Or Euthanized

ryan.ford 8 Nov 2019

Police animals in Texas can thank voters for a new, happy outlook in their retirement. In a ballot proposition overshadowed by larger matters in the recent election, voters in the Lone Star State voted in favor of allowing police dogs and horses to be adopted when they retire, instead of being sold or euthanized.

One of the most popular ballot initiatives, Proposition 10, passed with 94% support.

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Under the proposal, handlers and other qualified caretakers will have an opportunity welcome retired law enforcement animals into their homes.

Prior to this measure, there were only two options for law enforcement animals upon retirement: being auctioned off, or being euthanized. That's because state law considered them "surplus government property," meaning that the money government had invested in them couldn't be used for private benefit.

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This legislation had many champions behind it.

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"Police dogs develop a special bond with their handler, and — after a lifetime of public service — deserve to spend their golden years with their companion," said Republican State Sen. Jane Nelson, who co-authored the new legislation. "These dogs should not be auctioned off for property."

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At the national level, handlers have been allowed to adopt their former military service dogs since the early 2000s.

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However, state law in Texas clearly didn't keep up with the federal policy. So, sheriffs in Collin, Ellis, and Tarrant counties started a campaign to change the law.

"It's one of those things that you always wonder, why did no one pay attention to it?" the Tarrant County Sheriff Department's chief of staff, David McClelland, told The Texas Tribune. "It's something we feel really, really strongly about being in law enforcement."

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Jim Skinner, Sheriff of Collin County, had a more personal reason for campaigning for the new law.

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During his service in the Air Force 40 years ago, he worked with a canine and, knowing that the dog would be put down upon his retirement, he extended his tour just to get more time with his friend.

Shortly after his election as sheriff in 2017, he had to retire two police dogs.

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For him, that was enough.

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"As they get older and more and more used to the families that they're around, these dogs, they're like a pet, and they love their handlers and their families," he said. "So why not give them the ability if they're qualified to be a caretaker for their dog?"

h/t: The Texas Tribune

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