A man whose fatal stabbing of a K-9 prompted Pennsylvania lawmakers to stiffen the penalty for harming police animals has been sentenced to up to 44 years in prison.

A judge on Tuesday decided John Lewis Rush should serve a minimum of 17 years, nine months in prison and said he must also serve eight years of probation after being released.

The 22-year-old Stowe Township resident was convicted in December of torturing a police animal, aggravated assault on the dog's handler and three other officers, and other offenses.

Police say Rush stabbed the dog and wounded two officers trying to arrest him in January 2014 on warrants for violating probation and failing to register as a sex offender.

Rush says he stabbed the dog in self-defense.