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ST. CLAIR COUNTY, IL – Ambulances are for people.  It’s always been the law of the land. In Illinois, it’ll soon be “almost always”.

Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner, signed House Bill 2661, Tuesday.

It will allow police dogs to be transported for emergency care by ambulance when injured in the line of duty.

Police dogs risk their lives for people every day. If they get hurt while doing it, Rauner feels ambulances can be for dogs, too.

“In all reality the dog is basically a police officer.  He should be treated accordingly,” said Deputy Sean McPeak of the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.

McPeak recently lost his police partner of the past 4 years, Boss, the police dog.

Boss died from a medical issue not related to his police work.

Still, McPeak as much as anyone appreciates Rauner signing the bill.

It seemed more than coincidence when a dog barked just as Rauner presented the newly signed legislation at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.

“The dogs are happy!!!” Rauner laughed just after the bark.

“If {Boss} had a gunshot wound or anything like that, throwing him in the back of my squad car, he’s most likely going to bleed out,” McPeak said.  “If he can go in ambulance and they can treat him accordingly, that’s pretty neat.  That’s awesome.  I’m glad the governor did that.”

The dogs are trained to do everything from sniffing out arsons to narcotics to criminal fugitives.  Their e training costs upwards of $8000 and they face the same dangers as their fellow human officers.

“Canines are often the first to be sent in, in violent situations or in search of a violent offender,” said Illinois State Police Director, Leo Schmitz.

“We should treat our canine friends as priorities and make sure they get transported to receive the care they need,” Rauner said.  “They deserve it.  It’s the right thing to do.”

The new law takes effect January 1st.

Humans will still have priority, Rauner said. Police dogs will only be transported if there’s no person in need of an ambulance at the time.