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Police animals could get same protection as officers under new proposals

Published 13/11/2016

A police horse on duty
A police horse on duty

Parliament is set to debate calls for criminals who attack police dogs or horses to face the same punishment as those who injure officers after more than 100,000 signed a petition calling for the law to be changed.

Under current rules criminals who attack police animals are prosecuted for causing criminal damage, but campaigners want the creatures to be given the same status as injured officers.

The proposed Finn's law is named after a Hertfordshire police dog who needed surgery after being stabbed several times while chasing an armed suspect.

Conservative MP David Mackintosh, who is presenting the debate on Monday as he sits on the Petitions Committee, said the law should reflect the status "of our brave and courageous animals".

He told the Press Association: "When you look at their current status, assaults on police dogs and horses are treated in the same way as criminal damage.

"We are putting police dogs and horses on the same level as police cars and riot vans, and I think that's wrong.

"This should be looked at in a way that reflects the status of our brave and courageous animals who help us fight against criminality."

In some parts of the US attacks on dogs are treated the same as attacks on their human handlers.

Mr Mackintosh said ministers should look at giving greater protection to animals, although he said there would be problems giving them the same status as humans.

Retired police dog handler Neil Sampson, 56, from Swindon, said he would be dead if his trusted dog Anya had not fought off a knifeman.

Mr Sampson was stabbed seven times during the attack in January 2008 and Anya was knifed in the chest.

He said: "Police dogs and police horses are living, breathing creatures. And whilst they are the property of the police force, to call a dog or a horse just property and the offence criminal damage is not good enough.

"Because there is this love of animals that runs throughout the UK I'm hoping the Government will look upon it in a different light and say yes, these creatures are helping us and we should recognise their duty and try and help them."

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