In December 2011 Montgomery K9 officer Bodi was shot in the line of duty, and later died last July. Until Wednesday, nothing protected police and rescue animals, but Governor Bentley signed a new law making it a crime to hurt police and rescue animals.
During a special signing ceremony, Governor Bentley was surrounded by the animals this law guards.
Under the law, it's illegal to harass, interfere, assault or injure a police animal, a search and rescue animal or their handlers. Before, it was only a crime to kill a police dog, but now penalties are strengthened with restitution.
The bill's sponsor Republican Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood, passed it on the Legislature's final meeting day, May 20.
"There were laws if you were to kill a police dog, but nothing to injure or interfere with a police dog, so I am pleased that this is finally and the governor is signing it into law," Rep. DeMarco said.
In addition to the Homewood Police Department's K9 units, Autauga County's Search and Rescue Squad were also at the ceremony.
"We never know what we're going to run up on, because it protects us and gives our dogs the right, where they didn't have it before," said Captain Fabian Mann, with Autauga County Search and Rescue.
If convicted under the new law, violators could face anything from a small fine up to 10 years in prison.