Dog-Geared Legislation

amaxwell@govexec.com

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee made no bones about it--retired law enforcement dogs aren't just surplus property.

The committee on Friday approved house-passed legislation (HR-173) to allow the handlers of federal law enforcement dogs to adopt them once they have reached the end of their working careers.

An ammendment to the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, this bill would allow surplus canines to be donated to their handlers, who would assume all costs and responsiblities related to the dog. Under current law, when a dog's service ends, the animal is either auctioned-off, caged or destroyed.

Recently, some handlers have been getting special waivers allowing them to keep the dogs. Under the new bill, that will not be necessary.

Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-CA, introduced the legislation to honor dogs that served the country.

"Essentially, this bill streamlines the adoption of federal law enforcement canines by handlers and allows for a more humane end to a canine's career," Gallegly said.

He described the "surplus property" law as "hardly humane treatment of an animal that has spent its life protecting Americans and upholding our laws." The 500 dogs currently serving the Federal Government are used by the Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and other law enforcement agencies.

President Clinton is in the process of reviewing the legislation.

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