People across the UK rush to back petition to reclassify status of police dogs after stabbing of PD Finn in Stevenage

Finn suffered injuries to his body and head and endured life saving surgery

Finn suffered injuries to his body and head and endured life saving surgery - Credit: Archant

A campaign to have the status of police dogs and horses made equal to that of police officers has gone national following the stabbing of police dog Finn and his handler PC Dave Wardell in Stevenage last week.

PC David Wardell with Finn

PC David Wardell with Finn - Credit: richard young

David Burstow started the petition to try to get parliament to act so anyone who attacks police dogs would face criminal charges similar to those for attacking a person.

The move was prompted by a 16-year-old boy being charged on Thursday with criminal damage after the stabbing which left Finn with serious injuries to his head and body, which required emergency surgery.

Many people took to social media to ask why the charge for Finn’s stabbing was one of criminal damage and not assault or attempted murder, but under current laws dogs are treated as property.

The petition has been signed by people in all but one of the UK political constituencies, and so far has more than 19,700 signatures.

Give us a kiss: PC Dave Wardell reunited with his companion and colleague.

Give us a kiss: PC Dave Wardell reunited with his companion and colleague. - Credit: Archant


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The largest number of signatures is in Stevenage, where 602 people have signed up, followed by North East Bedfordshire where there are 463 signatures so far.

In North East Herts 356 people have signed and 307 in Hitchin and Harpenden.

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Even in the most far flung places like Orkney and Shetland, five people have backed the campaign.

If the petition reaches its target of 100,000, it has to be consider for debate in the House of Commons and could become law.

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Victoria Harris Dawkins from Hitchin, who is friends with PC Wardell, circulated the petition in a public Facebook post yesterday evening – and the number signing it since then has more than doubled.

She said: “When I wrote this post this evening, it was principally because I was upset and frustrated by the injuries Finn has received and how they’re viewed by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Government, not by the police.

“I have to add, every police officer I’ve ever known knows exactly how important police canines and equines are.

“PD Finn received stab wounds to his head, and also his chest. The stab wound to his chest perforated his lung by eight inches, and required complex surgery that resulted in the loss of part of his lung in order to save his life - the offence against him was only classed as criminal damage.”

Speaking to the Comet today, she added: “I’m shocked and really pleased it has taken off in the way it has. The more people become aware of what our police officers and their canine colleagues face on a daily basis the better in my opinion.”

The petition can be viewed at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/168678.

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