The Home Office appears to think not.

However, a Petition calling for a change in the law has been set up as a result of the Hertfordshire police dog and his handler being stabbed in Stevenage while chasing a suspect. Parliament is, therefore, currently debating the issue given the petition topped 100,000 signatures in a month.

The Home Office’s position appears to be that as people who attack animals can already be jailed for 10 years, no new law is needed. However, in reality, it is extremely rare to hear that animal abusers have received a significant prison sentence.

German Shepherd, Finn, was stabbed in the head and chest and his handler, Dave Wardell, received a hand injury during the attack in the early hours of 5 October 2016. The seriously injured dog then underwent four hours of emergency surgery.

A 16-year-old boy from London has been charged with the assault of a Police Officer and criminal damage (a lesser offence) relating to the dog.

The Petition, which was set up on the UK government’s petition site just days after the attack, proposes that police animals should “be given protection that reflects their status if assaulted in the line of duty” and at the time of writing it had received more than 120,000 signatures.

The Home Office appears to have responded by saying that “under some circumstances assaults on support animals could be treated as criminal damage, allowing for penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment” and that “an additional offence dealing specifically with attacks on police animals may not result in more prosecutions or increased sentences”. It would, however, undoubtedly act as a significant deterrent.

Mark Tasker from the Finn’s Law Twitter campaign has apparently said that “the government’s response is not that surprising”. We had a very positive meeting with the Home Office before the weekend and we feel confident that the government are reviewing all options. We believe we will see a new law within the next year”.

It is hoped that he is correct. Without a change in the law to protect dogs that are assaulted in the line of duty, there is more of an incentive for a criminal to assault dog rather than handler given the significantly higher risk of prosecution as a result of assaulting an Officer.

It is, clearly, tantamount to government sanctioned animal abuse if animals are going to be put in the line of fire without also protecting them in law.

For any help and advice on Canine Law contact our Canine Law experts on 01522 561020.

How can we help?

    Contact Details
    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Google Privacy Policy, Our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.