Ernie's Law comes full circle, applies to Covington case

Ernie's Law applies to Covington case

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - A Covington Police SUV was rear-ended Friday night while on the highway. Jail records show the driver is accused of being under the influence.

At the time of the crash, K9 Ernie was along for the ride and injured from the collision.

As Ernie recovers from his injuries, Ernie's Law is looking after him and every other K9 through the courts.

According to a tweet from Kenton County Prosecutor Rob Sanders, Asfuw Kassahun was behind the wheel of the car.

Jail records show the 50-year-old is facing four different charges, including assault on a service animal and OVI.

Before Kentucky statute 525.2 got the "Ernie's law" makeover, intentionally harming a police K9 would have been a felony ONLY if the dog died or could not return to service.

Now the severity of the injury and criminal intent are factors in the Class D Felony charge.

Sanders discussed the issue with our cameras back in 2015. That's when Ernie was shot in the leg while chasing a suspect.

"It's unfortunate but Kentucky law only makes it punishable by 1 to 5 years believe it or not," Sanders said at the time. "If the dog is able to return back to work, it actually lowers it to a misdemeanor."

Saturday afternoon Sanders wrote on Twitter, "Who would ever imagine Ernie would be the first victim protected by his own law?!"

FOX19 reached out to Covington Police. They say they will discuss the matter in more detail early next week but they did share Ernie is at home resting and recovering. He is expected to be out of service for a while.

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