Beds, Herts & Bucks

Finn's Law petition gets debate in Parliament

Police dog Finn Image copyright BCH Police Dogs
Image caption German shepherd Finn was stabbed in the head and chest after pursuing a suspect

A petition calling for police animals to be given the same status as officers if they are injured at work will be debated in Parliament.

The Finn's Law campaign is named after the Hertfordshire police dog who, along with his handler, was stabbed in Stevenage while chasing a suspect.

It wants people who attack police animals to face charges similar to those for attacking a person.

It will be debated on 14 November after topping 100,000 signatures in a month.

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German shepherd Finn was stabbed in the head and chest and his handler, PC Dave Wardell, received a hand injury in Denton Road after they pursued a suspect in the early hours of 5 October.

A 16-year-old boy from London has been charged with the assault of the officer and criminal damage relating to the dog.

The petition, set up on the UK government's petition site days after the attack, proposes that police animals "be given protection that reflects their status if assaulted in the line of duty" and has now received more than 120,000 signatures.

Image copyright Hertfordshire Police
Image caption The seriously injured dog underwent four hours of emergency surgery and is now recovering at home with handler PC Dave Wardell

Mark Tasker from the campaign said: "We are absolutely elated, we always knew this was something that would capture the public's imagination and it seems that Parliament recognises just how offensive it is to classify the killing or serious attack on a police dog or horse as criminal damage."

Assistant Chief Constable Dan Vajzovic from the Joint Protected Services for Beds, Cambs and Herts said: "It has been uplifting to see how much the public have got behind the issue and given their support.

"Naturally we support any legislation that offers an effective mechanism for reducing the likelihood of officers and their police dogs being subject to assault and injury."

The injured dog underwent emergency surgery and is now recovering at home.

The officer required treatment in hospital.

Image copyright BCH Dog Unit
Image caption PC Dave Wardell has had Finn since he was a nine-month-old puppy

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