Today saw a momentous victory for the welfare of service animals in England and Wales with Finn’s Law passing through the House of Lords and into law. The passing of this law is a great step forward in the protection of the many service animals we rely on to keep us safe, thanks to one very brave police dog and some fantastic campaigning by his handler. Finn is a police dog who, in 2016, was wounded in the line of duty while protecting his handler PC Dave Wardell. He was nearly killed while pursuing a suspect who attacked him with a large knife, but fortunately survived horrific injuries.
Despite the heroism of Finn and so many other service dogs and horses injured in the line of duty, police dogs in the eye of the law have up until now been treated as property, meaning suspects could only be charged with criminal damage for attacking them and, if convicted, would receive only a light punishment for their actions. Since the attack on Finn, Dave has been campaigning tirelessly to change the law, to provide all service animals with the protection they deserve and a stronger deterrent against similar offences. IFAW has been extremely proud to support Dave and Finn’s work on the Finn’s Law campaign.
We awarded Finn IFAW’s Animal of the Year Award in 2017 as part of our annual Animal Action Awards. At the awards ceremony PC Wardell was able to meet with his local MP, Oliver Heald, who went on to table the Private Member’s Bill that led to today’s vital law change. IFAW has continued to support the Finn’s Law campaign as the Bill passed through Parliament, raising public awareness, arranging meetings with key decision-makers and contacting MPs and Peers to ensure swift progression through Parliament at each stage.
Today’s announcement is a great victory for Dave and Finn and for all service animals and their handlers across England and Wales. However, there is still work to be done. We now need to ensure service animals in Scotland have the same protections, and we need your help to make this happen. We recently went to the Scottish Parliament to meet with Liam Kerr MSP, who has championed Finn’s Law in Scotland, to discuss the issue.
There is currently a consultation running in the Scottish Parliament to increase protection for service animals. You can contribute to this consultation here.
Speaking today, PC Wardell said he could not have achieved this win without the help of IFAW, supportive politicians and the public. He added that he was delighted that from such a horrifying attack on Finn, there had been an outpouring of support which has ultimately led to positive and lasting change. Finn’s legacy will be a recognition of the debt we owe service animals and better protection for other animals like Finn who risk their lives every day to keep us safe.
On behalf of everyone here at IFAW we send massive congratulations to Dave and Finn for all their hard work, as well as a big thank you to Oliver Heald MP and all the other MPs and Peers who helped make Finn’s Law a reality!
*In addition, nominations are now open for the 2019 Animal Action Awards, so if you know of another hero animal who, like Finn, has done something amazing, please let us know. You can submit a nomination here.
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