Staffordshire Commissioner welcomes news to protect service animals

Monday, 11th February 2019

STAFFORDSHIRE’S Commissioner for Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime has welcomed the Government’s backing of a new law offering greater protection to courageous service animals.

On Friday (8 Feb) the service animals’ bill, also known as Finn’s Law, passed its final Commons stages and will proceed to the House of Lords.

‘Finn’s Law’ which is named after a German shepherd Police dog who was stabbed on duty aims to prevent attackers from claiming self-defence.

The German shepherd and his handler PC Dave Wardell sat in the House of Commons gallery as the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill passed its third, and final, reading.

The proposed law – an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2006, was introduced by Sir Oliver Heald, Conservative MP for North East Hertfordshire.

Matthew Ellis called for a change in the law just weeks after police dog Finn and his handler were stabbed and seriously injured in Hertfordshire in 2016.

Staffordshire Commissioner Matthew Ellis with PC Karen Bloor and PD Nando

Staffordshire Commissioner Matthew Ellis with PC Karen Bloor and PD Nando

PC Wardell said the dog, which is now retired, saved his life when a robbery suspect turned on them with a knife in 2016. Finn was stabbed in the chest and head and was not expected to survive.

A 16-year-old boy was sentenced to eight months’ detention for the offence of criminal damage – the only offence which at the time fit the incident.

The proposed legislation will remove a section of the current law of self-defence, often used by those who harm a service animal.  This change, coupled with the government’s plans to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences to five years in prison, will make sure those who harm service animals are punished accordingly.

Commenting on the progress made today, Matthew Ellis said: ‘I am delighted that Finn’s Law has passed another hurdle thanks to all the supporters who have campaigned for service animals to be given greater protection’.