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Finn's Law: MPs to decide whether attacking police dogs should be criminal offence

An officer started campaigning for the law to change after his police dog was stabbed by a suspected robber and nearly died.

Finn was stabbed in the head and chest by a robbery suspect

By Ceren Senkul, News Reporter

A bill could be passed on Friday which would make it an offence to attack service animals, including police dogs and horses.

The Service Animals Offences Bill will have its second reading following the Finn's Law campaign.

PC Dave Wardell and his police dog Finn were chasing a robbery suspect in 2016 when they were attacked with a knife.

The suspect injured PC Wardell's hand, but he stabbed Finn in the head and chest as the German Shepherd tried to stop him from getting away.

Finn was very badly hurt

While the suspect was charged with actual bodily harm for his injuries to PC Dave Wardell, he was only charged with criminal damage for almost killing Finn, as dogs are considered property in the eyes of the law.

Criminal damage is currently the only available charge for someone who attacks a police or service animal - even though dogs are often bitten, kicked and strangled while in the line of duty.

Parliament could reach a decision on Friday on whether to make attacking a service animal a specific criminal offence.

PC Dave and PD Finn

PC Wardell got Finn when he was a puppy at nine months old, and they have worked together ever since.

He has told Sky News about the experience, which saw both him and Finn, who is now eight, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"I first realised he had a knife when I saw it coming out of Finn's chest, " he said.

"We thought it was a baton. Finn blocked the knife when it was coming towards me. If he hadn't done that I wouldn't be here today. He is my hero."

Finn was given to PC Wardell when he was nine months old

Finn was very badly injured and rushed to the vet.

"I wasn't sure I'd get him to the van without him dying, it was a huge knife. We were in the van with the blue lights on so he was excited - he thought we were going out for a new job!

"Then when we got there I could tell he was really suffering because he just laid there and he never does that."

PC Wardell spoke of a moment that he would never forget.

"I was laying there with him on the floor at the vet. In all that pain he sniffed out the cut on my hand and started tending to it. That will stay with me forever."

PC Wardell wants people to know how important police dogs are

PC Wardell says coping with PTSD has been made easier with Finn's support, who also suffers the effects of traumatic experiences he faces on the job.

"Since that night Finn went from being my service to my therapy dog - my recovery has been linked to his recovery. I really struggled.

"The guilt was horrendous. The flashbacks kept me awake for weeks."

He says there is "no doubt" Finn suffered from PTSD as well because he was "so withdrawn and not himself".

But he pulled them both through.

"It was Finn that dragged me through that first job and said 'come on dad, let's go back to work'".

He received great support following his attack

PC Wardell says a law change would honour the amazing role service animals play in society, helping people live safer lives.

"If we are going to put them in dangerous positions then the least we can do is protect them."

Finn has been responsible for 300 arrests, but in his spare time he likes to go swimming, surfing and paddle boarding.

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