Police dog Finn endured life-threatening stab wounds when protecting his handler from an armed robbery suspect. But at that time, service animals were classed as property. So the offender could only be charged with criminal damage for the severe attack upon the loyal canine.
Years of campaigning by Finn’s handler PC Dave Wardell, his family and a dedicated group of animal advocates have finally been rewarded with the passing of a new law. Known as Finn’s Law, the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act came into force in England and Wales on 8th June 2019.
“Our service animals will no longer be viewed as items of ‘property’ in order for charges of criminal damage to apply. They will be viewed as the living, breathing and sentient beings that they are,” says PC Wardell.
Northamptonshire Police marked the introduction of Finn’s Law by bringing in special identification cards and individual ‘collar’ numbers for their police dogs. PDs Mac, Charlie, Olly, Walt and Bryn were the first to be presented with their warrant cards and collar, engraved with their name and number. Trainee pup Bryn is named after a fellow police dog who was fatally shot in 1998 when he and his handler, PC Ian Churms, attended an emergency call. To commemorate PD Bryn, a group of retired police officers and staff raised the funds for a new police dog.
Now retired, German Shepherd Finn has become quite a celebrity with TV appearances and accolades. He is also the star of the book, Fabulous Finn, written by PC Wardell.