Everyone is in agreement that K-9 units are an important part of law enforcement. Dogs are used to find hidden illegal narcotics, bombs, improvised explosive devises, injured and trapped individuals, and even dead bodies. However, what is not common knowledge is that law enforcement officers that are assigned to K-9 units often care for these important animals in their own home due to the fact that the Police, Fire or Corrections department that they work for do not have kennels or other space to house them. K-9 handlers are asked to care for these highly trained animals on their own time and in their own home as if it were part of the job. Well now it is part of the job, literally, and those that care for these dogs during their own time are entitled to compensation.
The United States District Court, District of New Jersey, has now made it clear that compensation is due when Police, Fire and Corrections personnel care for K-9 animals during their own time. In the case of Falzo, et al. v. County of Essex, et al., U.S.D.C. (District of New Jersey), 33-7-0509, Judge Linares ruled that K-9 handlers were entitled to compensatory damages for un-paid overtime and other damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1983 (FLSA) for time that they spent caring for the police dogs. Judge Linares went on to state that any off-the-clock work performed by the Plaintiffs in the care and maintenance of police dogs is compensable under the FLSA. Summary Judgment was granted in favor of the Plaintiffs, and overtime wages and damages will have to be paid for past time and future time spent caring for the dogs. The bottom line is that all dog handlers that care and maintain K-9s in their own home should be entitled to some extra cash for their troubles.