The Thin Blue Furry Line
With all of the stumbles we’ve heard involving the U.S. Secret Service and breaches of security at the White House in recent months, it was especially big news when Hurricane and Jordan, two K-9 Secret Service dogs, helped distract and neutralize an intruder who jumped the fence there. The two Belgian Malinois got some licks in, but they also took their lumps. The assailant kicked one dog in the face, and he body-slammed and punched the second one. A veterinary examination, fortunately, gave the dogs a relatively clean bill of health, but they certainly had their share of bruises.
In the following days, we learned more about these two heroes from the Secret Service, and about law enforcement dogs in general. Hurricane loves playing with his Kong toy, and Jordan enjoys walks around the White House, likely things they both enjoyed during their day off following their take down of the fence jumper.
We were glad that prosecutors had a legal tool to address the attack on the dogs by the assailant, who, it turns out, may not be mentally fit to stand trial. My colleagues at The HSUS and I worked on getting the Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act passed in 2000, with my friend and then Congressman Jerry Weller, R-Illinois taking the lead on the proposal. Senator Jon Kyl helped shepherd the bill to protect the Shepherds and other law enforcement animals through the Senate. President Clinton signed the bill in August 2000.
In advocating for enactment of that measure, we were defending an important principle: that law enforcement animals are not just instruments or tools, but living, feeling creatures. No one who is confronted by law enforcement should feel they’ll get away with injuring or killing a dog or a horse. These highly trained and disciplined animals engage in heroic conduct on a regular basis, and they should have special protections under the law, as human law enforcement officers do. As we saw from the video, they are often first in line to confront a criminal, and they are thrust into highly dangerous circumstances.
The case is a reminder that there are tens of thousands of animals serving not only the law enforcement community, but the whole of society. They are part of corps that enforces the rule of law in our society. They stop criminals in their tracks, they carry law enforcement personnel, and they detect narcotics or explosives, and serve a variety of functions, for a wide variety of federal law enforcement agencies.
We owe them a great debt of gratitude, and when they come under fire, or assault, we should as a society do what we can to prosecute the people who would hurt them.