CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WATE) – As a Bradley County Sheriff’s Office K9 recovers from an on-duty shooting, an East Tennessee representative wants harsher penalties for criminals who harm law enforcement service animals.

K9 Joker released from hospital after being shot while on duty. Photo: Bradley Co. Sheriff’s Office

K9 Joker was released from hospital care on Sept. 29 after it was shot while pursuing auto burglary suspects in Cleveland on Sept. 22. Six juveniles were arrested in Chattanooga related to the shooting and a series of vehicle thefts.

Tennessee representative Mark Hall (R-Cleveland) said he will be drafting legislation to make assault on law enforcement K9’s an automatic felony in the state of Tennessee. Hall wrote on Facebook that the legislation will be known as ‘Joker’s Law’ and he aims to have the most aggressive law in the country when it comes to assault on law enforcement K9s.

“These animals are assets to the communities they serve and especially to the Law Enforcement Officers that these animals protect. If a criminal wants to harm our Law Enforcement family, we will be there to stand with them as we prosecute and convict swiftly, with the full extent of Tennessee law.”

Tennessee Rep. Mark Hall (R-Cleveland)

Hall told WTVC his legislation would make injuring or killing a police canine a Class C felony with a minimum sentence length of 3 years.

In a statement to WTVC, Bradley County Executive Assistant to the Mayor said, “We are hopeful and thankful that representative Hall has stepped up to carry this bill.”