Hanes

Protect Our Police Dogs and Horses

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, has backed calls to pass tougher laws protecting the safety of police dogs and horses in the line of duty.

Members of Parliament yesterday debated whether attacks on police dogs and horses should be punished as severely as assaults on officers.

The call for the so-called 'Finn's Law' follows the stabbing of a police dog named Finn in Hertfordshire last month who was chasing a suspected robber. Finn almost died after he was stabbed in the head and chest. His handler was also injured during the incident. Campaigners lodged an e-petition which topped 120,000 signatures in a month to trigger the debate in Parliament.

There are no current laws that specifically protect police dogs or horses. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause any animal unnecessary suffering while the Criminal Damage Act 1971 classes animals as property capable of being 'damage and destroyed'.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent has an Animal Welfare Visiting Scheme which has been established in consultation with the Chief Constable of Gwent Police and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). As Commissioner, Mr Cuthbert is responsible for monitoring and administering the scheme which provides an independent check on the condition and welfare of Gwent Police Dogs. Finn's plight was brought to the attention of Mr Cuthbert by members of the scheme.   

Mr Cuthbert has pledged his full support for the campaign and has written to MPs in Gwent to ask that they support this motion as locally elected officials. 

Expressing his support, Mr Cuthbert said: "Police dogs and horses face the same perils as our officers out on the frontline and this is why I am offering my full support behind the call for tougher legislation to protect our animals."