A CAMPAIGN for Finn’s Law is battling to increase protection for police dogs and other service animals.
The campaign aims to bring in a law that not only fits the crime if an animal is attacked, but also demonstrates the work these animals do daily to protect their handlers.
On the 5th October 2016, Police handler PC Dave Wardell and his service dog Finn were chasing an armed suspect when he turned and attacked the pair.
PC Dave Wardell, said:
“On October 5th 2016 my police dog, Finn and I were chasing a robbery suspect when he turned and attacked us. Finn sustained serious stab wounds to the chest and head whilst protecting me. I sustained a stab wound to the hand.
Finn stopped the knife from reaching me and saved my life. Even after being stabbed through the lung Finn did not let go of the suspect until other Police Units arrived and arrested him. Finn was not expected to make it through the night. The suspect was charged with ABH for the injuries to me and only criminal damage for the horrific injuries to Finn.
This is currently one of the available charges for someone who seriously injures or kills a police or service animal in the line of duty, as they are considered as being property. I hope you agree that is not acceptable, Finn isn’t a plant pot or window and should not be treated as such. Eventually after more than 6 months of legal arguments our attacker was found guilty”
The injuries suffered by Finn were so severe that he required four hours of life saving surgery and 11 weeks of recovery.
Through the commitment and dedication of his handler PC Dave Wardell, the veterinary team and the Wardell family Finn was able to return to active duty before his planned retirement in March 2017.
Had Finn not protected PC Wardell he would have suffered serious injuries or even lost his life.
Currently, under UK law there is no specific offence for causing injury to a police animal whilst carrying out their duties.
Attacks on police animals happens on a daily basis, but very few are pursued through the courts.
Therefore, Finn’s Law is a campaign ran by a group of volunteers to change this.
The petition started on the 11th October and it took off quickly, reaching 10,000 signatures the same day.
They want police animals to be recognised for the vital role they fulfill.
They aim to receive this recognition through the creation of a specific criminal offence for causing injury to them.
— Finn for change (@Davewardell) 15 April 2018
Director of Finn’s Law Ltd, Sarah Dixon, said:
”It is absolutely outrageous that we, as a country of animal lovers, fail to protect our service animals from harm.
”Our service animals should not be excluded from the protection offered under the Animal Welfare Act purely because they provide the service we task them to do.
”Alternatively to treat them as property, reducing them to an object with a market value, is not only distasteful, but is in direct conflict with the Government’s statement on animal sentience.
”Our service animals are being injured daily. The only way to address this is to give them the respect and protection they deserve, as many other countries have done.
”It is time for Finn’s Law.”
As a result of campaigning so far, progress towards their goal has been made.
In March 2017, we saw the introduction of new sentencing guidelines which can be taken into effect if a police animal is injured whilst carrying out its duties.
@DeputyMayorofGM @AndyBurnhamGM @salford_mayor @Davewardell @finnforchange #TeamFinn this demo shows how far the knife used to stab Finn would have penetrated into his chest – does this look like “insufficient seriousness” to you? Nothing for the dog!! We need #FinnsLaw pic.twitter.com/2jhyLa0BMp
— PendletonNW 📱+ 🚘 = ❌ (@PendletonNW) 16 April 2018
However, the volunteers at Finn’s Law believe that the new guidelines will have a limited impact, as they can only be taken into account as an aggravating factor when the Court consider a suitable sentence.
There is a case due to come before the courts shortly in Greater Manchester.
This is a case in which a police dog was subjected to a vicious and sustained assault whilst undertaking an arrest.
The charge is criminal damage.
Finn’s Law would allow tougher charges to be given for attacks on service animals.
The volunteers at Finn’s Law have contacted Andy Burnham to support the campaign, but to date he has not been responded.
The campaign currently has 29 of the 41 PCC’s that have confirmed their support.
Therefore, Finn’s Law needs your help by showing your support for the campaign.
You can do this by writing to your local MP to express why you think the current laws are inadequate and ask your MP to support the campaign to create a specific criminal offence which will enable cases to be pursued.
You can get in touch with your local MP via a letter, e-mail or speak to your MP face to face by visiting one of their surgeries.
Worsley and Eccles South Parliamentary Constituency is Barbara Keeley MP.
** REMINDER ** let’s put the pressure on to get #Finnslaw passed – Contact your local MP – Your PCC or anybody who is willing to support this law.. @Davewardell #FabulousFinn ….Pls RT. pic.twitter.com/GbZFU32rXk
— PendletonNW 📱+ 🚘 = ❌ (@PendletonNW) 13 April 2018
The volunteers at Finn’s Law are willing to edit any letters you write if you are needing assistance.
To find out more information click here