The woofs have it as Finn’s Law heads for statute book

Hero police dog Finn barked his approval as a law named after him, aimed at giving service animals greater protection from attack, cleared its final parliamentary hurdle.

The canine champion was in the public gallery of the House of Lords as the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill received an unopposed third reading by peers.

Nicknamed Finn’s Law, the legislation moves to close a loophole which meant service animals including police dogs and horses were treated as force property, which limited the charges that could be brought against offenders who injured them.

Finn is credited with saving the life of Pc Dave Wardell, from Hertfordshire, when a robbery suspect turned on them with a knife in 2016.

The dog suffered serious stab wounds to the chest and head but did not let go until back-up arrived, and he was initially thought unlikely to survive.

However, only criminal damage charges could be brought against the accused over the injuries to Finn.

Now retired and fully recovered, he has attended every stage of the passage of the Bill through Parliament and was there to “woof” his endorsement at third reading.

Conservative peer Viscount Trenchard, who took the backbench bill through the upper chamber, paid tribute to Tory MP Sir Oliver Heald for introducing the legislation.

He said: “I give great credit to him for supporting Finn’s cause and with his customary doggedness and skill steering the Bill successfully through all its stages.

“The Bill will make it easier to prosecute people… who are suspected of causing unnecessary suffering to service animals, chiefly police dogs and horses and dogs working for the Prison Service.”

He also praised Pc Wardell and other campaigners for their efforts that led to the introduction of the Bill.

Dave Wardell with Finn and his PDSA Gold Medal
Dave Wardell with Finn and his PDSA Gold Medal (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The legislation, which had Government and cross-party support, now goes forward for royal assent.

Speaking outside the chamber, 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.

“There will now be a proper offence of causing unnecessary suffering to a service animal.

“I am delighted this has passed and pay tribute to Pc Dave Wardell and the Finn’s Law team.

“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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