After a shooting in Braintree last week left two police officers wounded and a K-9 dead, Nero’s Law is getting revived attention in Massachusetts again.
This law would allow for a law enforcement dog injured in the line of duty to be transported in an ambulance if there is not competing need for human transport. Currently, they are not allowed by law to be treated or transported by emergency personnel.
“We need to pass this bill. We should not be waiting any longer, said state Representative Steven Xiarhos (R-5th Barnstable).
This law stems about from a shooting on the Cape. Back in 2018, Yarmouth Police Sergeant Sean Gannon was shot and killed in the line of duty and his K-9 partner, Nero, was severely injured. Since EMS personnel were not allowed to transport Nero, the dog had to wait almost four hours on scene. Fortunately, Nero made it to the emergency veterinary hospital and survived.
Rep. Xiarhos, who was a former police officer and the deputy chief at the time in Yarmouth, was on scene that day.
“The paramedics and the EMTs that are trained, the ambulances were sitting there and nobody could help him, and I’ll never forget that,” he said.
In Braintree last week, police were responding to a domestic dispute and went into the woods searching for the suspect. Officers Matt Donoghue and Bill Cushing were shot multiple times, were sent to the hospital with injuries but survived. Their K-9, Kitt, did not.
“Our dogs love us. They serve and protect us. When they’re injured, we should be doing everything we can to save their lives. That’s what they expect, and that’s what we should do,” Rep. Xiarhos said.
Following the shooting in 2018, Nero’s Bill was filed by the state representative serving Yarmouth at the time, former Rep. William Crocker (R-2nd Barnstable).
However, this bill never became a law.
“A lot of the public thinks that this already passed when this happened in 2018,” Rep. Xiarhos said. “It went to a hearing, and it was approved and then it just stalled in the State House. It just never happened.”
Nero’s Law ultimately reached the end of its two-year cycle and had to be refiled as a new law. Rep. Xiarhos and Senator Mark Montigny were the two main sponsors for this bill.
“I purposely left that job to run for office because of what happened to Nero and Sean Gannon,” Rep. Xiarhos said.
Currently, this law is awaiting reviewal by committee. The bill has more than 80 co-sponsors, and there are over 200 police dogs in Massachusetts (state police, sheriff’s department or local), Rep. Xiarhos said.
Rep. Xiarhos said the bill has no opposition but now just needs “help to get over the goal line.” He asked for the public’s support by asking them to contact their local state representative or senator by emailing or calling them asking them to support this law.
“No more excuses. We need to get this through the process,” he said. “We have good government in Massachusetts. We have good caring officials. I’m hoping we can come together as one and pass this law. When one of them is injured, we should be serving and protecting them.”