USPCA Welcomes First Step to Introducing Finns Law in NI

Yesterday the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act which is also referred to as Finn’s Law was debated at the Northern Ireland Assembly and was unanimously passed.

The “FINN” referred to is a German shepherd police dog who was stabbed in the heart by a teenager in 2016 while protecting his handler PC Dave Wardell. The suspect faced only criminal damage charges over the injuries caused to Finn.

The new law would mean that causing deliberate infliction of injury or harm to any service animal will result in prosecution under an animal welfare offence in Northern Ireland and will no longer be regarded as ‘criminal damage’, the equivalent of breaking a window or damaging a police radio. This would lead to more appropriate sentencing for offenders.  

USPCA Chief Executive Brendan Mullan stated “The USPCA is delighted to hear of the result from yesterday’s debate at Stormont. The introduction of the new legislation will afford service animals, be they canine or equine with the protection they deserve, something which has been denied to them in the past and a law in which we have worked towards being introduced.   

As a compassionate and caring society, we have an obligation to legally safeguard animals who serve and protect us. The new legislation will make a real difference for these animals and is a step forward in the right direction for animal welfare in Northern Ireland.

We would now encourage the minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and his officials to act quickly in bringing forward the necessary public consultation and draft legislation, recognising there is a short window of opportunity as there is only two years left in the current assembly term.”