Photo credit: Photo of Finn and PC Dave Wardell from

Finn’s Law

From Saturday 8th June 2019, it is now a criminal offence to injure a police dog or horse. This is thanks to a campaign by an officer and his brave service dog, Finn.

Closing a loophole

Finn’s Law finally closes a loophole which meant service animals were treated as force property. As a result, this allowed any criminals who hurt them to avoid more serious charges.

Unnecessary suffering

The new law means causing unnecessary suffering to a service animal – like Finn – will now be an offence in England and Wales.

Cause of campaign

PC Dave Wardell started campaigning for the change in the law after his police dog, Finn, was stabbed by a suspected robber and nearly died.

Apprehending a suspect 

The incident took place in Stevenage in 2016. PC Wardell and Finn were both stabbed while trying to apprehend a man. The man was suspected of robbing a taxi driver at gunpoint.

Refused to let go

German shepherd, Finn, was stabbed in the chest and head, but refused to let go until further reinforcements arrived. At the time, it was thought highly unlikely Finn would survive.


PC Wardell, who sustained knife injuries to his hand, credited Finn for saving his life.

The charges

The suspect was charged with actual bodily harm in relation to PC Wardell’s wounded hand. However, when it came to the injuries to Finn, he faced only criminal damage charges.

The campaign

Since the incident PC Wardell has worked tirelessly to get more protection for service animals. This has come via an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

House of Lords

When The House of Lords passed a law giving protection to service dogs and horses, Finn, was in the public gallery. Apparently, he barked as the bill was passed.

Royal assent

The new legislation was then given Royal Assent.  PC Dave Wardell said it was “amazing achievement”.

Justice is done

PC Dave Wardell continued: ‘My boy Finn, now retired, was one of several thousand service animals that work to protect the whole of society 24 hours a day, everyday. When Finn was seriously injured it didn’t seem right to me or the public that he was seen as an inanimate object/property, in law.’

Stronger protection for service animals

Commenting on the case, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

‘This Bill will offer stronger protection for the many brave service animals that help to protect us. I pay tribute to PC David Wardell, Sir Oliver and all those who have campaigned for Finn’s Law.

This Government is continuing to raise the bar on animal welfare, whether it be for our beloved pets, brave service animals or on farms.’

Further information

Find out more abut Finn’s Law here

Read our article about the inspirational work of support dogs here:

If you are aware of more amazing areas dogs help, that we haven’t covered in this article. Please let us know so we can update and applaud all the wonderful benefits that these superb dogs are able to bring.

First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for veterinary advice. The author does not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any mistreatment or misdiagnosis of any person or animal, however caused. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid for Pets course or take our online course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

Register for our FREE DOG Choking Course

Register for our FREE DOG Choking Course

Learn step by step how to help your dog when it matters most! No credit card required!


Thanks! Please check your email for your login information!