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Maine law for K9s is influencing other states

In 2018, Maine enacted a law that allows police dogs to be treated by EMS on scene if they're hurt in the line of duty.

PORTLAND, Maine — As of 2018, a law was passed in Maine that if a working police dog is injured in the line of duty, they are able to be treated by EMS before being sent to the hospital. 

Maine was the first state in New England to pass this law to protect police K9s. 

One of Portland's K9s, and his officer partner, are now advocating for that same law in New Hampshire.

Working with police dogs takes time, training, and discipline. Officer Michelle Cole of the Portland Police Department is one of five officers with a K9. 

She fronted the bill in 2018 that working dogs can get treated by EMS workers on the scene.

"Pretty proud of the work that we've done in this state, and they are going to go back and make this program for their state, and states across the nation are all hopping on board," Cole said. 

Cole has a background in veterinary technology, which is why she wanted to make sure Maine had a law in place.

"... And they do so much for us and it's important for us to give back to them and make sure they are offered that medical care," Cole said.

"Without question, our dogs are our partners and they are not only a pet but first responders in the same degree that we are," Lt. Robert Doherty with the Portland Police Department added. 

Officer Cole has been with the department for 25 years and is now on her fourth dog, Barni. 

Barni is a part of the K9 Unit at the Portland Police Department, working as a TSA dog to sneak out explosives. 

"A lot of these situations that we speak of, some of them are really dangerous situations and they are that tool that will help us get through that situation that we can't do as humans," Cole said.

Since this law was passed here in 2018, they have been able to train hundreds of EMS professionals in Maine on how to care for police dogs.

"We've gone from almost nonexistent laws to almost every single state protecting these working dogs," Cole said.

There is hope for a similar law in New Hampshire, as that bill is being called back to the House next week.  


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