FINN the police dog’s heroics are to be enshrined in a new law to protect service animals on the frontline.
Finn the police dog’s heroics are to be enshrined in a new law (Image: PA)
The Government says it will be supporting the so-called Finn’s Law aimed at closing a legal loophole that allows violent thugs escape justice for hurting police dogs and horses.
Combined with proposed tougher sentences for animal cruelty, anyone seriously injuring police dogs and horses will soon be going to prison for up to five years.
Finn the dog almost died protecting his partner PC Dave Wardell when they tackled a knifeman two years ago while on patrol in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
Yet Finn’s ordeal highlighted the way that criminals could avoid serious charges if they attacked a service animal by claiming self defence.
The new law will protect service animals on the frontline (Image: PA)
This Bill will offer stronger protection for the many brave service animals that help to protect us
Michael Gove - Environment Secretary
This get-out will be abolished by the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill which has been introduced as private members’ legislation but will now be given Government support when it gets its second reading today.
“This Bill will offer stronger protection for the many brave service animals that help to protect us,” said Environment Secretary Michael Gove as he praised campaigners for the so-called Finn’s Law.
“This Government is continuing to raise the bar on animal welfare, whether it be for our beloved pets, brave service animals or on farms.”
Demands for a so-called Finn’s Law sparked a huge 125,000 strong petition after the Hertfordshire Police dog’s teenage attacker only received four months’ detention. A sentence described by PC Wardell as disappointing.
Finn the dog almost died protecting his partner PC Dave Wardell when they tackled a knifeman (Image: PA)
Th bill will offer stronger protection for service animals (Image: PA)
PC Wardell has welcomed the Government’s support for the Private Member’s Bill introduced by his MP, Sir Oliver Heald QC, explaining: “My boy Finn, now retired, was one of several thousand service animals that work to protect the whole of society 24 hours a day, everyday. When Finn was seriously injured it didn't seem right to me or the public that he was seen as an inanimate object/property, in law.
“This campaign and Bill is my way of saying thank you to Finn for saving my life and to the many others for the truly outstanding and brave work they do everyday.”
The Bill aims to amend an existing section of Animal Welfare Act that allows someone causing unnecessary suffering to a service animal to claim they were protecting themselves and justified in using physical force.
Two of Finn’s Law leading campaigners, Nicola Skelley and Sarah Dixon, welcomed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ backing for the Bill.
“For too long have the courts struggled with securing prosecutions for injuries intentionally inflicted on police and prison dogs and horses in particular,” they stated.
“We are looking forward to the second reading of Sir Oliver's Bill and we feel optimistic for a positive outcome. We will continue to work tirelessly towards securing protection for these animals.