Devon police commissioner Alison Hernandez has reiterated her support for an animal welfare bill that would offer more protection for police dogs despite it being held up in the House of Commons today.
The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill – known as Finn’s Law – was spearheaded by Westcountry campaigners Nicola Skelley and Sarah Dixon.
Finn’s Law was named after a police dog who was stabbed while pursuing a suspect with his handler.
The proposed legislation - brought as a private members bill - would remove a section of the current law of self-defence, often used by those who harm a service animal.
This change, coupled with the Government’s plans to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences to five years in prison, would make sure those who harm service animals are punished accordingly.
The bill received Government backing and was due to progress through Parliament today, but was held up by an objection from Christchurch MP Sir Chistopher Chope, who has a reputation for derailing private members bills.
Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez has supported the campaign and the work done by the force’s dog handling unit, which is run in an alliance with Dorset Police. Although disappointed she is hopeful that the bill will progress when it returns to the Commons on July 6.
She said: “I’m pleased that the Government has backed Finn’s law, which would mean greater protection for animals like dogs and horses within our police forces.
“These animals are on our frontline each and every day, putting themselves in harm’s way to keep us all safe, so it’s only right we protect them.
“Nicola, from Devon, and Sarah, from Dorset, have done an incredible job with their campaign - we have a pioneering allianced police dog unit and it is fantastic that their contribution is recognised and supported locally and nationally.
“We should all get behind Finn’s Law and protect the protectors.”
Nicola said: “For too long the courts have struggled with securing prosecutions for injuries intentionally inflicted on police and prison dogs and horses in particular.
“We are looking forward to the second reading of Sir Oliver's bill and we feel optimistic for a positive outcome. We will continue to work tirelessly towards securing protection for these animals.”
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