SPRINGFIELD – On Friday, legislation to create a program within the Illinois State Police to provide a stable funding source for veterinary care for retired police dogs that is co-sponsored by House Assistant Minority Leader Jackie Haas (R-Kankakee) passed the House of Representatives. House Bill 3588 will create the Care for Retired Police Dogs Program which will be managed and administered by a contract not-for-profit corporation selected by the Illinois State Police through a competitive grant award process.
“When we think of the men and women behind the badge, it’s also important to remember the trained and heroic K9’s who work with them to keep our communities safe,” said Leader Haas. “K9’s help find missing people, track suspects, and can even detect narcotics or explosives. Once they retire, we should continue to support them in their later years and ensure they get the veterinary care they deserve. I hope to see HB 3588 pass through the Senate and receive the Governor’s signature to support these heroic creatures.”
HB 3588 also ensures that from appropriations made to the Illinois State Police for the program’s implementation, ISP must make grants to the not-for-profit corporation they contracted to be the disbursing authority for this program. Funds must be disbursed to the former handler or adopter of the retired police dog who served for five years or more and will be reimbursed annually for the cost of the dog’s veterinary care. The maximum amount that can be disbursed is $1,500 per dog and the handler or adopter cannot spill over unused funds from one year into the next year. ISP will also be directed to pay the not-for-profit funds for administrative expenses, like salaries and benefits.
According to the National Police Dog Foundation, police dogs normally retire at around 10 years old, where it lives at home with its handler as a family pet. They are trained in obedience, agility, and more and can be trained in narcotics or explosives detection and to help find dead bodies, lost children, the sick, the elderly, and match potential suspects to objects like weapons used in crimes. Popular breeds include German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Dutch Shepherds and others include Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, and Bouvier de Flandres.
Most police dogs are also purchased by public or corporate donations because many police agencies do not have a budget for police dogs, and donations may also be needed for food, equipment, and training which can range from $12,000 to $15,000 per dog.