HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Legislation that was inspired by the death of a Johnstown police dog is on the verge of becoming law, according to state Rep. Jim Rigby (R-Johnstown).

K9 Officer Titan of the Johnstown Police Department was killed in action while searching for burglary suspects in 2020. (photo via the Johnstown Police Department)

“As a dog lover and former police chief, I’m very aware of the valuable contributions these animals make,” Rigby, the author of House Bill 940, said. “When Titan died in the line of duty two years ago, the police force and the community suffered a great loss. House Bill 940 would to some degree avenge his death and also hold responsible those individuals who had a hand in it.”

K-9 Titan died in November of 2020 from injuries he suffered while he and his handler were taking part in a burglary investigation. The incident happened in an abandoned Goodwill warehouse in the Woodvale section of Johnstown around 4:30 a.m.

While searching the building for the suspects, Titan fell to the bottom of an open elevator shaft from the fourth floor. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The five suspects include:

  • Makayla McCarty, 24, of McVeytown
  • Corey McCarty, 25, of McVeytown
  • Derrick McCarty, 29, of McVeytown
  • Robert McCarty, 53, of McVeytown
  • Sean Robertson, 27, of Newton Hamilton

House Bill 940, nicknamed Titan’s Law, passed the Senate Wednesday and the House Thursday with bipartisan support that would expand the penalty for incidents when a police animal is injured or killed by individuals when they are engaged in the commission of a felony.

“Under current law, a crime is committed only when perpetrators intentionally cause the injury or death,” Rigby said. “In addition, House Bill 940 would increase the penalty to a third-degree felony for anyone who tortures, mutilates, injures, disables, poisons or kills a police animal while committing a felony.”

Get daily updates on local news, weather and sports by signing up for the WTAJ Newsletter

A felony of the third degree has a maximum possible sentence of up to seven years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine.

While Titan was a K-9 office with the Johnstown Police Department, he partnered with Officer Brian Stevens for six years. He logged hundreds of apprehensions, narcotics detections and K-9 demonstrations.

Titan was escorted by police from the Public Safety Building to the Hindman Funeral Home on Frankstown Road, leaving behind a legacy of courage and selflessness that will never be forgotten.

Since then, the Johnstown Police Department has introduced two new K-9 officers to its force: K-9 Ripp and K-9 Archie.