Timilty and Senate Approve Nero’s Law
Bill creates new protections for law enforcement K9 officers
(BOSTON) State Senator Walter F. Timilty and the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously approved An Act allowing humane transportation of K9 partners last week. Also known as Nero’s Law, this legislation will ensure law enforcement officers’ K-9 partners can receive life-saving medical attention and transport if injured in the line of duty. The bill, first proposed by Senator Mark Montigny, comes in response to the tragic events that took the life of New Bedford-native and Yarmouth Police K-9 Sergeant Sean Gannon and severely injured his K-9 partner, Nero.
In April 2018, Sergeant Gannon was shot and killed while serving a warrant in the Town of Barnstable. Despite the multiple empty ambulances on site, Nero had to be rushed to the animal hospital in the back of a police cruiser. Currently, Massachusetts law prohibits emergency medical personnel from treating and transporting animals. Fortunately, Nero survived his injuries, but the inability to transport him showed that reform was needed to honor working dogs who risk their lives every day to serve the Commonwealth.
“There was a tremendous outpouring of support for Nero’s Law from advocates, law enforcement officers, their family members, and communities from across the Commonwealth,” said state Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. “Each and every day, law enforcement professionals, including police canines, put their lives on the line to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth. It is crucial that our first responders are given the ability to treat them when they are wounded in the line of duty. I am thankful that this legislation has passed and that first responders are now able to provide emergent care to wounded police canines.”
“Nero’s resulting injuries and delay in treatment forced him into an early retirement from the police force. Even though multiple ambulances were on site and that EMS personnel were on site wanting to treat and transport Neor, Massachusetts General Laws prohibited Nero from being treated by EMS personnel,” Timilty stated.
The Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security heard testimony on this bill before voting it favorably out of committee, paving the way for it to be debated in the state Senate.
“In hearing public testimony, I was reminded of the important, unique, and strong bond of a police officer handler and his or her police canine,” said Timilty. “Police canines live and work with their handlers and become members of their families.”
“As essential members of the law enforcement community, we must provide police canines with the same lifesaving treatment that we provide all officers. Nero’s law will ensure access to emergency care for more than 200 police canines in the Commonwealth,” Timilty said.
“K-9 officers protect the men and women in law enforcement as well as the community at-large,” said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), lead sponsor of the bill. “These animals endure extreme danger from gun violence, narcotics, and even explosive materials. Allowing our emergency personnel to provide basic treatment and transport is a commonsense measure that honors their contributions across the Commonwealth. Sergeant Gannon was a native son of New Bedford and therefore his K9 partner Nero is part of our community’s extended family. Words cannot describe the gratitude we have for the Gannon family for their tenacious and compassionate advocacy to get this bill done. I must also thank my colleagues Senators Walter Timilty and Mike Rodrigues for expediting this bill through the committee process.”
Nero’s Law authorizes emergency medical service personnel to provide emergency treatment and transport of K-9 partners. This includes basic first aid, CPR, and administering life-saving interventions such as naloxone.
Nero’s Law now advances to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.