Hero police dog Finn to pick up Animal of the Year award at House of Lords

PUBLISHED: 11:22 11 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:22 11 October 2017

Hero police dog Finn. Picture: Danny Loo

Hero police dog Finn. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2016

Hero police dog Finn, who beat the odds to survive horrific knife wounds suffered in the line of duty, will pick up a special Animal of the Year award at the House of Lords next week.

Police dog Finn required emergency surgery after he was stabbed. Picture: ArchantPolice dog Finn required emergency surgery after he was stabbed. Picture: Archant

Eight-year-old German Shepherd Finn and handler PC Dave Wardell were chasing a suspect at night through a garden in Stevenage on October 5 last year when both were attacked by a 16-year-old wielding a combat knife – resulting in Finn sustaining serious stab wounds to the head and chest and losing a lot of blood. PC Wardell suffered a hand injury.

Despite his wounds, Finn held on to the suspect – who has since been prosecuted – until PC Wardell was able to handcuff him before Finn was rushed for emergency surgery.

Life-saving open-chest surgery was performed and Finn went on to stage a remarkable recovery, being declared fit for duties just weeks later and catching another suspect on his first night back at work late last year.

Philip Mansbridge, UK director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare – which is giving the award – said: “Finn is a truly remarkable dog in a million.

PC Dave Wardell and PD Finn last month, after PD Finn was named Hero Animal of the Year in the Animal Hero Awards. Picture: Tim AndersonPC Dave Wardell and PD Finn last month, after PD Finn was named Hero Animal of the Year in the Animal Hero Awards. Picture: Tim Anderson

“His defence of his handler and his dedication to duty shows the special relationships that can exist between dogs and people.

“Similarly, PC Wardell’s tireless campaign following the devastating attack on his canine best friend is admirable, and we hope it will help prevent similar attacks on police animals in the future.

“Finn is a very deserving winner of IFAW’s Animal of the Year Award.”

Finn’s incredible story has helped inspire a government consultation to look at an increase in sentencing for animal cruelty cases. The result of this is due before the end of the year.

PC Dave Wardell and Finn in Stevenage. Picture: ArchantPC Dave Wardell and Finn in Stevenage. Picture: Archant

In February this year, such attacks were elevated by the Sentencing Council from the category of criminal damage to an aggravated offence – and at the start of October, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced plans to increase the maximum sentence under the Animal Welfare Act for the most severe cruelty cases to five years in prison.

PC Wardell said: “I was really blown away to hear that Finn was to receive the IFAW Animal of the Year Award, not just because IFAW has been a group at the forefront of the push to change legislation but also it is an honour to see Finn’s actions recognised with this award.

“It has been a crazy year for Finn and me, a real emotional rollercoaster. It still feels very raw now but we have at least turned negatives into positives as much as possible.”

PC Wardell continues to work as an operational handler and instructor with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Police Dog Unit, working with other dogs.

Finn is not taking it easy in his retirement and still enjoys lots of training, walks and fun days out with PC Wardell and his family.

At home, Finn is not short of companions as he is one of six dogs living with PC Wardell, his wife Gemma, 34 and daughters Jaymee, 11, Tia, 7, and five-year-old India.

Finn will receive his award at IFAW’s prestigious Animal Action Awards event, hosted by Baroness Gale and presented by TV wildlife presenter Bill Oddie, at the House of Lords on Tuesday, October 17.

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