Press "Enter" to skip to content

Macon County K9 handlers lead effort to secure care for retired law enforcement K9s

Bryan House, director of the state’s Alcohol Law Enforcement division, spoke to the North Carolina State Personnel Committee on Thursday in support of House Bill 1042, “Vet Care for Retired Law Enforcement” in honor of his former law enforcement colleague. House told committee members that his colleague  — an 8-year-old black Labrador retriever — was involved in 400 drug arrests in her career. During those arrests, she helped seize more than $1.2 million in cash. She also found the gun used to murder former Shelby Police Officer Tim Brackeen, who was killed in 2016. Brackeen’s assailant later pled guilty to first-degree murder.

According to House, Jip, and other retired K9s across North Carolina who have faithfully served their communities deserve care and support after they retire. 

House Representative Karl Gillespie, R-Macon, serves as one of the bill’s primary sponsors and introduced the bill after K9 handlers from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, with the support of Sheriff Brent Holbrooks, brought the issue to his attention. 

“We all know these dogs go above and beyond,” stated Rep. Karl Gillespie, R-Cherokee. “They save lives, they save our officers’ lives, they save people’s lives, they sniff out drugs. They do all of those things. And this bill is a very small step in providing some benefit to those dogs that provide years of benefit to the citizens of North Carolina.”

House Bill 1042 proposes providing a maximum of $1,500 annually in financial support for certified retired police dogs — as long as they had worked for a law enforcement or correctional agency and had received certification from a nationally recognized organization. Handlers of the retired animals would pay the initial veterinary bill, then apply for reimbursement through North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety within 90 days of the animal’s vet visit.To fund this initiative, the Retired Law Enforcement Canine Fund will receive $300,000 in recurring funds from the General Fund. This effort reflects the growing recognition of the invaluable contributions these K9s make to public safety.

“We spent last week celebrating National Police Week and while the thank yous and recognition we received were so appreciated, legislation like House Bill 1042 is putting ‘your money where your mouth is’ and taking real action to support law enforcement,” said Macon County Sheriff Brent Holbrooks. “The bill’s title — House Bill 1042 might be a coincidence, but it actually makes all of this a little more meaningful as a 10-42 code is the call made when a law enforcement officer ends their tour of duty. So I can’t think of a better way to honor our state’s K9s as the finish their service to our communities than to make sure they are taken care of in their well-deserved retirement”

The bill has received full backing from the Department of Public Safety and aims to cover a range of veterinary services. These services include wellness examinations, testing and treatment of illnesses, medications and vaccinations, emergency care, and surgeries. Owners of retired law enforcement dogs will be able to apply for reimbursement of these veterinary services through the Department of Public Safety.

Law enforcement dogs play a crucial role in maintaining community safety. They are pivotal in search and rescue operations, detecting narcotics, and saving lives. The support for this bill underscores the community’s gratitude and recognition of the service these dogs provide.

The next step is for House Bill 1042 to head to the House Appropriations Committee and if favorable, on to a full vote in the House. From there, it would be sent to the Senate for consideration, where Senator Kevin Corbin is standing ready to support it. 

“I am proud to know that law enforcement in my district in Western North Carolina lead the charge to get the ball rolling on this and I whole-heartedly support Rep. Gillespie and his colleagues in the House to get this bill over to the Senate where I look forward supporting it.”

If approved in the Senate, the bill would go to Governor Roy Cooper for his signature before becoming law and going into effect on July 1. 

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *