Dogs from the Cheshire and North Wales Police Alliance Dog section have now been issued with individual collar numbers and ID cards.
The decision by the force to introduce collar numbers and ID cards was taken following the passing of Finn’s Law in 2019.
Finn’s Law was founded by PC David Wardell of Hertfordshire Police, who campaigned tirelessly to protect service dogs better after Finn was repeatedly stabbed whilst pursuing an armed suspect.
Finn sustained severe stab wounds to his chest and head, but investigating officers could bring only criminal damage charges against his violent attacker.
Finn’s Law was eventually passed through parliament, which means that anyone who causes unnecessary suffering to a service animal whilst in the commission of its duties will be able to be charged under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and will no longer be able to hide behind the defence of fear.
This new legislation, coupled with the government’s plans to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences to five years in prison, will make sure those who harm service animals are punished accordingly.
Traditionally, a collar number is issued to an officer at the start of their career and is their unique identification number to the police force in which they serve.
The collar number is displayed on their epaulettes – which are worn on the shoulders of their uniform.
Cheshire and North Wales Police Alliance Dog section will now provide all dogs with a PD (Police Dog) collar number, which will be displayed on collars and harnesses.
Chief Inspector Simon Newell said:
“The Alliance police dogs play such a vital role in daily, operational policing – from finding missing or vulnerable people to tackling serious and organised crime, including drug supply. Handlers and their dogs form a unique bond, and we’re proud every day of the fantastic work that they do; it’s only right that they are recognised in this manner.
“In recognition of Finn’s Law, all of the Alliance police dogs have now been allocated individual PD collar numbers to give them equal status in terms of identity to police officers and reflect the vital role the dogs carry out as part of the wider policing family.
“To reinforce this, we have issued each Alliance police dog with their own warrant card and collar displaying their PD number, giving them a greater sense of identity.”
According to the group which led the campaign for this law, more than 100 other service animals have been injured since 2012.
This includes injuries such as being stabbed, hit with a scythe, beaten with an iron bar, kicked and hit by a car.
Chief Inspector Newell added:
“A number of the Alliance police dogs are also trained as a less-lethal tactical option in support of firearms incidents.
“The provision of body armour for the dogs is, therefore, necessary to minimise the risk of harm by maximising the level of protection to them, as we wouldn’t send our police officers out to face danger without the appropriate protective equipment, and the same should be said for our police dogs.
“Over the last 12 months, the Alliance have been trialling body armour to identify the most suitable in terms of protection (ballistic and stab/spike resistant) and comfort to ensure the dog’s movement, agility and speed are not compromised.
“To give our dogs the best possible protection, all of the Alliance General Purpose dogs have been individually fitted for their new body armour, and we will soon be taking delivery of the new equipment.
“This shows a real commitment from both Cheshire and North Wales Police to recognise the value of and protect their prize assets…..the police dogs.”