Beds, Herts & Bucks

Finn's Law: Stabbed police dog law passed by Lords

Finn on police car Image copyright @K9Finn
Image caption Police dog Finn was stabbed in the head and chest while on duty in Hertfordshire in 2016

The House of Lords has passed a law giving protection to service dogs and horses after a campaign by the handler of a police dog which was stabbed.

German shepherd Finn, who inspired the law, was in the public gallery and barked as the bill was passed.

The new legislation, which is awaiting royal assent, means causing unnecessary suffering to a service animal will be an offence in England and Wales.

Finn's handler PC Dave Wardell said it was "amazing achievement".

Image copyright Hertfordshire Police
Image caption Finn underwent four hours of emergency surgery and handler PC Dave Wardell was treated in hospital

PC Wardell and Finn were both stabbed while trying to apprehend a man suspected of robbing a taxi driver at gunpoint in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in 2016.

Finn was stabbed in the chest and head, but did not let go until reinforcements arrived. He was initially thought unlikely to survive.

PC Wardell, who was knifed in the hand, credited Finn for saving his life.

But while the suspect was charged with actual bodily harm in relation to wounds to PC Wardell's hand, he faced only criminal damage charges over the injuries to Finn.

Image copyright Dave Wardell
Image caption The extent of Finn's injuries prompted campaigners to call for changes to animal attack laws

Since then the police officer has been campaigning for an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

MP for North East Hertfordshire Sir Oliver Heald was given permission to bring in the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill in 2017.

Following the bill's third and final reading in the House of Lords, Sir Oliver said: "I am delighted that service animals will now have the protection they need and will not simply be treated as property like a police radio.

"Finn has attended every stage of the bill and has been very well behaved, but I think he was entitled to his bark as the bill passed the House of Lords."

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