Police dog Finn inspires MP Sir Oliver Heald’s bill to change law on service animal attacks

PUBLISHED: 12:01 03 December 2017

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald with PC Dave Wardell and PD Finn at the IFAW Animal Action Awards 2017 ceremony at parliament. Picture: IFAW

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald with PC Dave Wardell and PD Finn at the IFAW Animal Action Awards 2017 ceremony at parliament. Picture: IFAW

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The MP for North East Herts will put forward a motion in the House of Commons calling for the law to distinguish between attacks on service animals and property, in the wake of police dog Finn being stabbeed in Stevenage last year.

A youth from Lewisham, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty of causing criminal damage by attacking police dog Finn and assaulting his handler PC Dave Wardell at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court in May.

PD Finn and PC Wardell were chasing the boy through a back garden in Stevenage’s Denton Road on October 5 last year when he reared up wielding a 12-inch combat knife and stabbed the German shepherd through the chest, before cutting the police officer’s hand.

PD Finn, who was eight at the time, had life-saving surgery to have parts of one lung removed.

On Tuesday, Sir Oliver Heald will put forward a motion in the House of Commons for permission to bring in The Service Animals Offences Bill, which would create a specific offence of attacking service animals, including police dogs and horses.

It would also make certain offences aggravated when perpetrated against such animals, which this also covering guide dogs and assistance dogs.

Sir Oliver said: “PC Dave Wardell and his police dog Finn live in Buntingford, in my constituency.

“Finn was extensively injured when he was stabbed in the chest in course of his duty, in trying to apprehend a suspect and protect PC Dave Wardell, who suffered an injury too.

“Finn made a great recovery and returned to service. However, it was only possible to charge the accused with criminal damage – treating Finn as an object, or with animal cruelty which fails adequately to take account of his service duties.”

The MP added: “The aim of the bill is to create offences of attacking service animals in the course of their duty.

“This is something which happens in Canada and other countries. It is time we had such a law in this country.”

Finn’s attacker was given a detention training order for eight months – four months in custody and four months in the community – as well as a two-year behaviour order with conditions, a £300 fine and a £30 surcharge.

Finn made a full recovery and is now enjoying his retirement at home with the Wardell family.

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