Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping today backed calls to pass tougher laws protecting the safety of police dogs and horses in the line of duty.
MPs will today (Monday 14 November) debate whether animals should be given the same status as police officers if they are injured at work after campaigners lodged an e-petition which topped 100,000 signatures in a month.
The so-called ‘Finn’s Law’ follows the stabbing of a police dog named Finn in Hertfordshire on October 5 who was chasing a suspect. His handler was also injured during the incident.
There are no current laws that specifically protect police dogs or horses. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause any animal unnecessary suffering while the Criminal Damage Act 1971 classes animals as property capable of being ‘damage and destroyed”.
Campaigners want criminals who attack police animals to face the same severity of charges as if they attacked a police officer.
The PCC said: “This is a positive step forward for Finn’s Law campaigners and demonstrates the huge weight of public support out there for legislation that recognises the seriousness of attacking a police animal which is there to protect the public.
“Our police dogs have a vital role to play in public safety and face the same risky and dangerous situations as our police officers. Tougher legislation which provides further protection to our police dogs and their handlers has my full support.”
Finn, a German shepherd, was stabbed in the head and chest and underwent four hours of emergency surgery. He is now recovering at home.
The petition, entitled Give Status to Police Dogs and Horses as ‘Police Officers’, was set up in the days after the attack and has so far attracted more than 120,000 signatures.
A similar petition was submitted to parliament in the UK in 2014 however the previous Government said that the existing laws were adequate.
The maximum sentence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is six months in prison or an unlimited fine or both.
In the US, the Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act prohibits willfully or maliciously harming a police animal.
Mr Tipping is committed to safeguarding the welfare of Nottinghamshire’s police dogs.
Three years ago, during his inaugural term as PCC, he approved the launch of a Police Dog Pension Scheme which covers the medical costs of retired police dogs for three years following their service. The move recognised the sterling service they provided to the public during their working life.
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Posted on Monday 14th November 2016