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MPD Wants Stronger Penalties For Hurting D.C. Police Dogs

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Sam was introduced to the service in August.
Martin Austermuhle/WAMU
Sam was introduced to the service in August.
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Sgt. Johnny Walter with his partner Sam at the Wilson Building.

D.C. Police want more protections for the department's police animals. To make their case, the police department is showcasing their star recruit: a two-year-old bloodhound named Sam.

He's only been on the force for a few months, but Sam the Bloodhound is already mixing it up with city politicians. The department's first-ever bloodhound trained to find missing people was brought down to city hall for today's hearing.

The D.C. Council is considering a measure that would increase the penalties for people who harm police animals and make the crime a felony.

Sam's handler, Sgt. Johnny Walter, says police dogs are routinely sent into dangerous situations for the safety of the officer and the animals often pay a price for it.

"In the patrol work, a lot of time, when you try to get to the suspect, they start kicking and stabbing," Walter says. "Every day a police dog gets hurt, stabbed, choked, etc."

Not everyone thinks its a good idea though.

A representative from the public defender service, an organization that provides defense counsel for those who cannot afford it, questioned whether the proposed penalties are too harsh.

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