London, June 16 (IANS) Animals used by Britain’s police and security forces have won government backing for a new law to protect them from attack.
Environment secretary Michael Gove on Friday announced the government would support the so-called Finn’s Law following a campaign to win greater protection for animals, Xinhua reported.
The campaign was launched after police dog Finn was stabbed while pursuing a suspect with his handler police Constable David Wardell.
Thousands of people backed the campaign for greater protection for Finn and other animals, while people from across the country sent get well cards and gifts to the police dog as he fought for his life after the attack.
The dog survived, but has now been retired from police work.
With government support, Finn’s Law will introduce bigger fines and prison sentences for attacks on service animals.
Constable Wardell, Finn’s handler, welcomed the change in the law. He said: “When Finn was seriously injured it didn’t seem right to me or the public that he was seen as an inanimate object or property, in law.”
“The campaign is my way of saying thank you to Finn for saving my life and to the many other (dogs) for the truly outstanding and brave work they do every day.”
Wardell, from Hertfordshire Police, said Finn had saved his life when a 16-year-old robbery suspect they were pursuing turned on them with a knife in 2016.
Finn was stabbed in the chest and head, but did not let go until reinforcements arrived, and it was thought he was unlikely to survive.
The new legislation will remove a section of the current law of self-defense, often used by those who harm an animal working with the police, prison service or military.
The change in the law, coupled with the government’s plans to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences to five years in prison, will make sure people who harm service animals are punished, said the government.
Gove said: “The government is continuing to raise the bar on animal welfare, whether for our beloved pets, brave service animals, or on farms.”
British Member of Parliament Sir Oliver Heald presented the bill in the British Parliament.