In 2016, constable Dave Wardell and his partner, a German shepherd police dog named Finn, chased down a 16-year-old boy who had robbed a taxi driver in Stevenage, England. But then the teenager pulled out a 12-inch hunting knife.
To protect Wardell, Finn lunged at the boy. He was stabbed in the chest and head.
The hero dog was almost fatally injured, and he required four hours of emergency surgery. But because police dogs were considered property, the teenager could only be charged with criminal damage, not animal cruelty. He was sentenced to only eight months in a juvenile offender institution, followed by eight months’ probation.
Finn with some of his get well cards.
He’s feeling more himself today & starting to get a little cheeky to – much more like his old self. pic.twitter.com/wfcs5Eu5nI
— BCH Police Dogs (@BCHPoliceDogs) October 13, 2016
Fortunately, as of this month, offenders like that brutal teenager will no longer be punished with what amounts to a slap on the wrist. The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act — aka Finn’s Law — went into effect on June 8, thanks in large part to over 100,000 people who signed a petition on the UK government’s website demanding that police animals be given protection reflecting their status when they are assaulted in the line of duty. More than 1,400 people also signed a similar Care2 petition started by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Finn’s Law amends the existing Animal Welfare Act 2006 in regard to service animals, such as police dogs and police horses, in England and Wales. Under the new law, it is an offense to cause unnecessary suffering to these animals, and it will be more difficult for these abusers to claim they were acting in self-defense. In the United States, the Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act of 2000 provides similar protections to police animals.
Hi Team Finn. We sent you a DM yesterday morning but you may have missed it. After speaking to the dog section, we can confirm the words property will no longer be included on any new dog tags. When current tags are replaced, the same will apply. pic.twitter.com/2vfQDAOeXQ — Surrey PCC (@SurreyPCC) April 25, 2019
Finn recovered from his injuries, and he was even able to return to work with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Dog Unit just 11 weeks after he was attacked. He retired in 2017 at the age of 8.
“A little emotional, but so happy Finn has gone down in history,” Wardell said when Finn’s Law was approved by the House of Lords in April. “What a legacy for the job he absolutely loved doing every day of his career.”
Finn and Dave Become ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ Finalists
If you live in the UK and watch “Britain’s Got Talent,” you’re already well aware — and probably a fan — of Finn. He and Wardell won millions of hearts this season when they became finalists on the popular competition TV show.
Their talent? Not taking down bad guys, but showcasing Finn’s amazing “mind-reading” abilities. Finn even made Simon Cowell cry! You might also want to have a tissue or 10 handy before watching this video.
Creating a Care2 petition is easy. If you have an issue you care deeply about, why not start your own petition? Here are some guidelines to help you get started and soon the Care2 community will be signing up to support you.
Photo credit: @BCHPoliceDogs/Twitter