FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) – Governor Matt Bevin signed a bill Tuesday to give K-9 officers extra protection, making it a serious crime to hurt dogs who help uphold the law.

Police K-9’s were featured at the State Capitol, with one of them actually retrieving the bill for the governor.

With the governor’s signature, it is now a felony to stab, shoot or otherwise attack a police dog.

Before, suspects could only be charged if the K-9 died in the line of duty.

The bill, authored by State Rep. Dian St. Onge, had the full support of Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sander of Kenton County.

“It was absolutely apparent that it was to increase the punishment for anybody that would choose to attack one of these dogs and I think we've done the right thing here in Kentucky and I think that the punishment now brings some justice anytime there is one of these violent attacks on a police animal,” he said.

Assault on a police K-9 is now a Class D felony in Kentucky, and it carries a sentence of one to 5 years in prison.