Fremont Students and Assemblymember Quirk Testify in Support of Budget Request
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) and Fremont students testified in front of the Assembly Budget Sub-Committee-3 to request a modest budget allocation to help cover the cost of care for retired police dogs.
These students, from Niles Elementary School and Washington High School, are members of “We Love Pi,” which is part of the First Lego League (FLL), an international robotics competition. As part of the program, students are required to identify a problem based on the year’s theme and develop a solution. This year’s theme is “Animal Allies.”
Earlier this year “We Love Pi” students met with Assemblymember Quirk to present the research they had been doing for months on their project, named 401K-9, which would create a program for police dogs when they retire – either because of age or injury.
“I was moved by the passion these students brought to our meeting in advocating for a retirement program for police dogs,” said Assemblymember Quirk. “I could tell they spent a considerable amount of time researching this issue and were very concerned that police dogs, who do heroic and strenuous work, receive no retirement stipend to help cover their high medical costs.”
At the hearing, Trinidad Hellman said, “police dogs work just as hard as humans, and many officers told us that K-9s actually work harder and go ‘head first’ into danger to protect their human partners.” Karina Sapkota urged members to support the request because, “this is a major problem. K-9s take care of us, we should take care of them.” Malin Sapkota focused on some of the notable acts police dogs have engaged in, including “[apprehending] suspects without the use of lethal force.” Samih Qureshi said that their group was “surprised to learn that there is no agency responsible for collecting total K-9 data.” However, they have started a database to help lawmakers understand how many active dogs there are and how many retire each year. Sahir Qureshi focused on the relationship between humans and dogs stating that, “this is not just an animal issue. It’s a human issue that touches countless officers. We can’t just abandon ‘man’s best friend.”
“I am proud of these students for their ability to speak eloquently about this issue. I am thankful that these students were given an opportunity to testify and become politically engaged at such a young age,” Assemblymember Quirk stated at the conclusion of the students’ testimony in committee.
A police dog, commonly referred to as “K-9," is a dog that is specifically trained to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel. Their duties include searching for drugs and explosives, locating missing people, finding crime scene evidence, and protecting their handlers. Upon retirement, police dogs settle into peaceful lives as pets. They are often adopted by their human partners on the force. Due to the nature of their work as police dogs, they typically develop health conditions that require extensive care that can be costly.
The sub-committee has a few weeks to vote on Assemblymember Quirk’s budget proposal.
Elected in 2012, Bill Quirk brings his PhD in astrophysics and career as an educator and scientist to the State Assembly. He is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. He is also Chair of the Select Committee on California’s Clean Energy Economy. He is a member of the Agriculture, Public Safety, Revenue and Taxation, and Utilities and Energy Committees.