Finn's Law to become reality after campaign gets House of Lords' approval

PUBLISHED: 16:43 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:43 02 April 2019

A bill named after Police Dog Finn was passed in the House of Lords. Picture: PDSA

A bill named after Police Dog Finn was passed in the House of Lords. Picture: PDSA

Archant

A bill to protect service animals in honour of retired police dog Finn, who was brutally stabbed in Stevenage in 2016, is to become law after it was passed through the House of Lords today.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald.North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald.

The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill or Finn’s Law, as it is more commonly known, has now been passed to royal assent – the final step before a law is passed.

While sovereign approval is still needed, no law has been withheld since 1707.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald brought the bill to Parliament and has backed Finn’s Law throughout.

He was delighted to see the bill pass through the House of Lords, saying: “I am absolutely thrilled that the Animal Welfare Service Animals Bill has gone through at the House of Lords.

PC Dave Wardell with the very fabulous Finn at his side. Picture: Quercus PublishingPC Dave Wardell with the very fabulous Finn at his side. Picture: Quercus Publishing

“It is very hard to take a bill through to the House of Lords. I think it has only happen four times in the last 20 years.

“Finn’s Law will provide protection for police dogs and police horses which I am really pleased about. It is a major step forward.”

The Finn’s Law legislation will remove a section of the current law of self-defence, which is often used by people who harm service animals.

In October 2016, a 16-year-old boy from Lewisham attacked police dog Finn and his handler PC David Wardell in Stevenage.

Finn recovering at home after undergoing life-saving surgery. Picture: Dave WardellFinn recovering at home after undergoing life-saving surgery. Picture: Dave Wardell

Finn was stabbed in the chest and head, undergoing a five-hour operation which saved his life.

The offender was charged with criminal damage for the attack, and sentenced to eight months’ detention.

Sir Oliver spoke of how important the changes to the law will be, adding: “These animals have previously been treated as property by the law and it was looked at as criminal damage or damage of property when these animals were hurt or killed.

“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.”

“It is a huge moment so I am very pleased that it has got through.”

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