Police dogs and horses will have more protection from attacks when a new law named after a hero police dog comes into force.
The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill, nicknamed Finn’s Law after the loyal dog who was brutally stabbed while protecting his handler from a knife-wielding suspect, comes into force on Saturday.
The law removes a section of the current law of self-defence often used by those who harm a service animal while committing a crime.
Finn’s handler Pc Dave Wardell, from Hertfordshire, said the dog – now retired – saved his life when a 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 was initially thought unlikely to survive.
While the suspect was charged with ABH in relation to wounds to Pc Wardell’s hand, he faced only criminal damage charges over the injuries to Finn.
Pc Wardell said: “The last two and a half years have been quite a journey of discovery for Finn and me.
“We decided that we just had to bring change to make sure our amazing service animals, including police dogs and horses, had protection in law.
“We wanted to bring as much positive from that one negative as we could.”
The pair also managed to reach the final of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent but lost to Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery.
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs said the new legislation, coupled with the government’s plans to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences to five years in prison, will make sure those who harm service animals are punished accordingly.
Mr Gove congratulated campaigners, including Conservative MP Sir Oliver Heald who tabled the Bill, who helped to make Finn’s Law a reality.
He added: “This law is about giving our service animals the protection they deserve as they dedicate their lives to keeping us safe.
“I am committed to making the UK the best place in the world for the care and protection of animals.”
According to the group which led the campaign for Finn’s Law, more than 100 other service animals have been injured since 2012, Defra said.
These includes injuries such as being beaten with an iron bar, kicked or hit by a car, it added.