Cops would give injured, sick service dogs ride to vet under Hallandale proposal
Calling 911 for your service dog is normally a no-no.
But first responders could find themselves giving service animals in need a ride to the vet under a new law that won tentative approval Wednesday night in Hallandale Beach.
A similar ordinance, known as Kiddle's Law, was adopted in Doral last year after a disabled woman's service dog suffered a heart attack at a restaurant and died. The restaurant manager called 911 but was told cops and firefighters don't take animals to the vet, even in an emergency.
Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow, an animal advocate who has taken on puppy mills, said the new law would go far to help the city's disabled residents and their pets.
Brandi, the service dog of a quadriplegic woman who lives in Hallandale Beach, was attacked by a Siberian husky in 2007. The woman had to call her mom, then wait for her to arrive and drive the dog to the vet after the owner of the husky took off.
"My dog...was crying, bleeding and helpless at the end of my leash," Polett Villalta wrote in an email to Lazarow. "That night I didn't only lose thousands of dollars in training, plus vet bills, I lost my dog's trust completely, and even though she still respects my leadership, I no longer take her into public places as she'll bark and try to hide under my chair anytime people approach."
Lazarow says she decided to being the proposal to Hallandale Beach after hearing about the new law in Doral.
"If a first responder came, they could have gotten the dog to the vet much quicker," Lazarow told the Sun Sentinel before Wednesday's vote. "It's great to see my colleagues supporting a groundbreaking ordinance that will help service animals and our disabled."
If commissioners give final approval Oct. 7, Hallandale Beach police officers will be trained and authorized to transport service animals needing emergency medical care.
The new law does not cover pets that qualify as emotional support animals.
Residents and visitors who call 911 and falsely claim their dog is a service animal will risk a fine and jail time. They can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor that can lead to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.
The city's ordinance describes a disabled person as someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, or otherwise physically disabled.
The animal hospital must be in Hallandale Beach or the nearest 24-hour vet clinic. Participating clinics must give written consent that they will accept service animals transported by Hallandale Beach police.
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