A man who assaulted a police dog has become the first person in Leicestershire to be convicted of a new offence brought in to protect the welfare of animals in the line of duty.
Finn’s Law was passed only in June and it was used after Pc Sam Bennett of the county force and his police dog Tammy responded to reports of an incident of violent domestic disorder.
They were first to arrive on the scene when PC Bennett spotted the offender attempting to hide behind a vehicle near to the location.
When challenged by PD Tammy, who was barking in an effort to contain the suspect, she was grabbed roughly around the scruff of the neck and held onto before the officer was able to intervene and eventually detain and handcuff the suspect.
Fortunately, PD Tammy was not physically injured during the incident but she was closely monitored to ensure she had not been effected psychologically and undertook rehabilitation training where it was confirmed she still had the confidence to deal with conflict situations.
At a hearing last month, Anthony Mee pleaded guilty at Leicester Magistrates’ Court to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
He was sentenced to a 12-month community order and will have to complete a rehabilitation activity.
PD Tammy has recently retired from her role as a police dog and is now enjoying her retirement with her first handler, Pc Sarah Maynard.
Pc Bennet said: “Tammy was a police dog for five years and during this time she served her handler and the people of Leicestershire faithfully and to the very best of her abilities.
“She has had some amazing results over the years and right up until her retirement she tracked and located offenders, helping bring criminals to justice.
“I am so relieved she wasn’t seriously hurt and am glad she didn’t suffer any negative after effects.”
Finn’s Law, which protects animals such as police dogs and horses and carries a maximum sentence of five years, is new legislation which makes it an offence to harm or abuse an animal in the line of duty.
It is an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act and is named after a police dog called Finn, who was almost killed protecting his handler, Pc Dave Wardell, from a teenager with a knife.
Police dogs assist officers in a variety of duties, including locating missing people, which is due partly to their incredible sense of smell – they have 225 million receptors in their nose.
They also have physical strength, determination and intelligence and are an asset to any police force.
Leicestershire Police says it takes assaults on police dogs as seriously as it does for attacks on officers.