Retired police dog Finn wins at Crufts after saving officer’s life in Stevenage knife attack

PUBLISHED: 10:56 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:09 11 March 2019

Police dog Finn is a loyal companion.

Police dog Finn is a loyal companion.

Danny Loo Photography 2016

A retired police dog stabbed several times as he protected his handler from an armed attack has won the Friends for Life competition at dog show Crufts.

German shepherd Finn was stabbed in the chest with a 12-inch combat knife during a Stevenage police pursuit in October 2016.

He had been protecting his handler, Herts PC Dave Wardell, and ultimately saved his life.

PC Dave Wardell with his faithful friend Finn. Picture: Beat Media and the Kennel Club.PC Dave Wardell with his faithful friend Finn. Picture: Beat Media and the Kennel Club.

Finn subsequently had life-saving surgery to have parts of one lung removed and returned to work in December of that year, before retiring at the end of March 2017.

A campaign for Finn’s Law was mounted after a 16-year-old boy from Lewisham was charged with causing criminal damage for the attack which left Finn fighting for his life.

Police dog Finn required emergency surgery after he was stabbed.Police dog Finn required emergency surgery after he was stabbed.

The campaign is driving a new Bill which aims to make attacking a service animal a specific criminal offence which, through sustained campaigning by Dave and Finn, is now in its final stages in the House of Lords.

Finn was one of five hero dogs shortlisted for Crufts’ Friends for Life competition by a panel of judges from the Kennel Club – an organisation dedicated to the health and welfare of dogs – for the lifetime of love and loyalty they give to their owners and for the way they have irrevocably changed their lives.

The finalists shared their stories of the impact each dog has made on their life, with the nation voting for their favourite.

The winner was announced at the NEC Birmingham on Sunday by soldier Ben Parkinson, who lost both legs and suffered more than 40 injuries in a landmine blast in Afghanistan in 2006.

Police dog Finn and his handler PC Dave Wardell performing a practice search pattern on Finn's return to work after the attack in 2016.Police dog Finn and his handler PC Dave Wardell performing a practice search pattern on Finn's return to work after the attack in 2016.

PC Wardell and Finn were presented with their award and a cheque for £5,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for a charity of their choice.

PC Wardell said: “I can’t believe it. I feel so emotional. Just by being here we had won already. It has been a culmination of years of campaigning to get Finn’s story heard.

Police Dog Finn proudly shows off his PDSA gold medal, awarded for animal bravery. Picture: PDSAPolice Dog Finn proudly shows off his PDSA gold medal, awarded for animal bravery. Picture: PDSA

“I am so grateful to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for the prize money, which we’re going to donate to German Shepherd Rescue Elite.”

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said: “We congratulate Dave and Finn. Their story is incredibly moving and highlights what wonderfully loyal and brave companions our four-legged friends are. They are truly man’s best friend.”

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