Attacks on police dogs and horses became a criminal offence in Britain Wednesday after Queen Elizabeth gave Royal assent to a new law.
The new law was inspired by a serious attack on a police dog called Finn who was stabbed and seriously injured while trying to apprehend a man in Hertfordshire.
Finn and his handler, Police Constable Dave Wardell were both stabbed when trying to catch a man suspected of robbing a taxi driver at gunpoint. Wardell, who was also injured, credited Finn for saving his life.
Finn, a German Shepherd dog was stabbed in the chest and head, but he managed to hold on to the suspect until reinforcements arrived. It was first thought the dog’s injuries were so severe he would not survive, but Finn recovered and was back on active duty 11 weeks later.
Animal doctors spent four hours in the battle to save the dog’s life after the knife punctured a lung and came to a few centimeters of his heart.
The call for what has become known as Finn’s Law, started when the teenage suspect, who had been armed with a 30 centimeter hunting knife, faced a charge of causing actual bodily harm to Wardell, but he could only be charged with the lesser offence of criminal damage charges over the injuries to Finn.
Wardell started a campaign for an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act to make it a specific criminal offence to harm or attack a service animal, such as police dogs and police horses.
He was helped by Hertfordshire politician Sir Oliver Heald who was given permission to introduce the new bill into the House of Commons.
Wardell said he was so happy Finn has gone down in history, adding: “What a legacy for the job he absolutely loved doing every day of his career.”
The proposed new legislation won backing from politicians in both Houses of Parliament before being turned into law by Queen Elizabeth, one of Britain’s best known dog lovers and lifelong horse riders.
Wardell said: “This has been an amazing journey and such a positive campaign to be part of. All this positivity came from such a negative event. I would like to thank every single person who has supported us through this. I can’t believe we’ve made history.”
Finn has now retired from police duty and lives as a family pet with the Wardell family.