K9 officers push for criminals to pay for injured dogs

Anderson K9 Officer Marty Dulworth testifies on need to pay restitution for dogs killed in line of duty.

There's a new push to get criminals to pay for police dogs shot in the line of duty. Lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday from the people who knew them best: their partners.

Testifying about the loss of a partner during the line of duty is never easy. It wasn't Tuesday for K-9 officer Marty Dulworth as he remembered the night of July 26th, 2012.

"Two minutes after I exited my car, my K-9 was shot and I was shot," he explained.

Officer Dulworth from Anderson was the first officer to testify before a Senate Committee Tuesday morning.

"For nine hours a night, Kilo was in the back of my car. That was my partner and it shows that night. He wasn't scared. He didn't hesitate. He took the lead. He took the round."

That was July 26 of last year. Dulworth is still recuperating from his wounds suffered at the hands of an armed gunman.

"If it was not for my K-9 Kilo I would not be here talking to you guys here today. I was shot twice in the lower extremities by an AK-47. My K-9 partner was shot through the chest."

Officer Dulworth came to the Statehouse to testify in favor of a bill that would require a judge in sentencing to order full restitution for the cost and training of a police dog. The cost to replace a K-9 officer can run anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000.

One month after the Anderson Police Department lost Kilo, it lost a second K-9 officer. Magnum was shot in the head by a fleeing bank robber.

His partner, Officer Mathew Jarrett, also testified before the committee: "I gave him CPR and mouth to mouth all the way to the vet in the back of a police car."

In this case, the residents bailed out their own police department. They did that by donating enough money to purchase two new dogs.

Being a K-9 officer, Officer Jarrett knows how valuable these dogs can be and he knows how expensive they are top replace and then train.

"If it wasn't for donations, the department would have never had the money to fund a new dog. Especially losing two dogs a month apart."

The City of Anderson held a memorial service for the slain dogs last summer. Now they are fighting to make sure the costs from that loss are paid by the person responsible and not by the taxpayers.

There was no vote on the bill Tuesday. An amendment is being prepared that would require all replacement costs, including training, to be included in the law.