- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Although an equine named Larry is the only police horse in Montana, those who might harm him and future police horses would face the same criminal penalties as those who harm a police dog under proposed legislation.

Rep. Margie MacDonald introduced the bill in the House Judiciary Committee on Monday. The Billings Democrat said it would protect police horses and horses used in search and rescue as well as raise awareness of the benefits of mounted patrol units.

“This is something that I think harkens back to our state values and our state’s tradition and partnership we’ve always had in this state with our four-legged friends,” she said.

Under House Bill 106, someone convicted of harming a police or search and rescue horse could serve up to a year in prison and face a fine of up to $5,000.

“This simply adds ‘horse’ to the canine statute,” Livingston police officer Jessika Kynett said.

Kynett said her equine partner Larry is the only police horse in the state.

“Larry does have his own badge and is by far one of the best partners I’ve had on the beat,” she said.

Kynett also said she hopes the bill’s passage will encourage other Montana law enforcement agencies to establish a mounted patrol.

No one spoke at the hearing in opposition to the bill.

Mounted police programs protect citizens and provide a connection between police and community members, said bill supporter Wendy Hergenraeder, Montana state director of The Humane Society of the United States.

Kynett agreed.

“I’ve never met someone who asked if they could pet my car,” she said.

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