PCC Lord Willy Bach with handler PC Michael Wignall and Police Dog Fitz
Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach today paid tribute to the force’s army of police dogs and horses as a new law was passed to protect them.
The new legislation, which makes it illegal for anyone to cause unnecessary suffering to a service animal, has been given Royal Assent following a high-profile campaign backed by politicians, animal welfare campaigners and the public.
It was inspired by the story of Hertfordshire police dog Finn who was seriously injured after being stabbed while apprehending a suspect in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in 2016.
Although both were attacked during the incident, the suspect only faced charges of ABH in relation to the officer as no corresponding legislation was available for the injury on Finn.
Reacting to the law change, Willy Bach said: “This is a triumph for Finn, his dedicated handler PC Dave Wardell and for everyone who fought for this new law including MP for North East Hertfordshire Sir Oliver Heald who brought the original Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill in 2017.
“I’m so very glad the Government listened to their pleas and recognised the valuable role our service animals play in protecting the public.
“This additional protection is well-deserved and will ensure anyone who attacks or injures a service animal in the future will face the full arm of the law – and could well end up with a prison sentence. This is justice for Finn and for every other police dog or horse in the country which works diligently to protect the public and their handlers from harm.”
As well as creating a new offence to attack a service animal, the legislation will broaden sentencing powers where a service animal is injured or killed by criminal activity to reflect the severity of such violence.
Prior to its introduction, the only other serious charge available to officers was criminal damager as service animals were previously regarded as “property” under the law.
Picture: Lord Will Bach with handler PC Michael Wignall and Police Dog Fitz
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Posted on Friday 19th April 2019