Tributes have been paid following the death of a retired police dog who helped change the law to protect service animals after he was stabbed in the line of duty.

Finn was stabbed in the head and chest by a robbery suspect in Stevenage in 2016, but the German shepherd detained the teenager undeterred.

Finn recovered from his life-threatening injuries and returned to active duty 11 weeks later, retiring in 2017.


Finn and his handler, PC Dave Wardell, campaigned for Finn's Law, which came into force in 2019 as an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The legislation makes it harder for those who harm service animals to claim they were acting in self-defence.

The Comet: Finn died last week, age 14.Finn died last week, age 14. (Image: Hertfordshire Constabulary)

In 2021, the maximum sentence for cruelty to animals increased from six months to five years.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has paid tribute to Finn, who died last week aged 14 years.


Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: "The bravery of Police Dog Finn touched the hearts of the nation and we will remember him with warm affection.

"PD Finn also became the symbol of a national campaign that led to a successful change in legislation which has now made it a criminal offence to injure a service animal. This is a great legacy and reflects on the positive impact PD Finn had on so many people."

Sir Oliver Heald, MP for North East Hertfordshire, has also paid tribute to Finn. Sir Heald successfully took the Private Member's Bill through the House of Commons which enabled the change to the Animal Welfare Act.

Sir Heald said Finn attended every session in parliament when the bill was discussed, and woofed as the bill passed its final stage in the House of Lords.


"Finn was a special dog and had a great heart," Sir Heald said. "It was amazing that he survived the terrible attack on him. I, and a number of other MPs, were lucky enough to meet him, and he was always very patient with all the attention.

"He has left a real legacy, because we now have the laws we need to tackle violence against service animals.

"Finn won the highest awards for animal bravery and the public took him to their hearts."

The Thin Blue Paw Foundation - a charity supporting serving and retired police dogs from across the UK - is fundraising to create a statue in memory of Finn. The appeal has so far raised more than £26,000 of the £40,000 target.