Hero police dog who inspired law to protect service animals dies aged 14

  • “Fabulous Finn”, the retired police dog who helped introduce greater protection for service animals, has died aged 14.

    A spokesman for Finn’s handler Dave Wardell announced “with pain and sadness” that “our beautiful, brave, hero Finn” had died in his sleep on Thursday night (28 July).

    Finn and his handler PC Dave Wardell, of Hertfordshire Constabulary, were stabbed by a youth while on duty in October 2016. Dave sustained an injury to his hand and Finn needed emergency life-saving surgery for serious wounds to his chest and head. He recovered and returned to service, retiring in 2017.

    Although a 16-year-old was charged with actual bodily harm for stabbing PC Wardell, the attack on Finn was classified criminal damage, and following this Finn became the inspiration behind a new law to protect service animals, including police horses.

    The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act, known as Finn’s Law, came into force in June 2019. Under the act, it is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a service animal. It also allows, in certain circumstances, to disregard a defendant’s claim that they were protecting themselves and so were justified in using physical force against a service animal, therefore causing it necessary suffering.

    Finn’s Law part two was then introduced in England and Wales in 2021; the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill. Under this, the maximum sentence for the worst kind of animal abuse was increased to five years in prison.

    In 2018 Finn was awarded the PDSA gold medal, known as the animals’ George Cross. He made it to the finals of ITV’s Britain Got Talent in 2019.

    “He was so loved by everyone and will be missed incredibly,” said Gemma, Dave’s wife.

    “Dave will in time be back on social media but we hope that you can all respect our privacy over the next few days while we grieve.

    “Thank you for your service Finn, now go and rest in peace our sweet boy, until we meet again.”

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