N Ireland Assembly - Protect Police Dogs - Increase Animal Welfare Sentencing 5-10 years

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In Northern Ireland, hundreds of service animals work daily to keep us safe,  police dogs all work with the same dedication to duty as the men and women in our Police force.

Unfortunately, in Northern Ireland, our laws don't protect them the same way and currently, the law views a Police animal as little more than property.
This means that if an animal is assaulted or attacked in the line of duty, the assailant is likely to receive a punishment akin to breaking a window.

It happens. Police dog Finn was seriously injured while protecting handler, PC Wardell as he tried to arrest a suspect. Finn saved PC Wardell's life but was so seriously injured that he had to undergo four hours of emergency surgery. The suspect was charged with aggravated bodily harm for the officer's injuries but only criminal damage for the horrific injuries to Finn.

This is unacceptable and it is time we did something to ensure that anyone attacking a police animal is punished appropriately and animals be given protection that reflects their status if assaulted in the line of duty.

As Finn's Law was passed in England & Wales, this campaign aims to persuade the Northern Ireland Government to introduce a new criminal offence of harming or killing a service animal. This would adequately punish those who harm trained animals like dogs who serve the Police, Fire Service, Search & Rescue & Prison Service . 

Introducing a criminal offence of causing injury to police animals will ensure criminals who attack police animals are dealt with effectively, raise awareness of the severity of the crime and deter further attacks.

Ultimately this gives service animals the legal protection they deserve and goes some, small way, to saying thank you for their dedicated service.

INCREASE IN SENTENCING

The increase in sentencing will be a vital part of the Finn’s Law campaign. We need to ensure that those who commit such acts of violence towards service animals will face far tougher punishments in the future and act as a real deterrent.

Penalties under The Animal Welfare Act - is for pets and not service animals.

Serving police dogs are not pets therefore should have a separate penalty under the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) (NI) Act for sentencing offenders. Once retired they would fall under the Animal Welfare Act.

These are the penalties under Animal Welfare (Service Animals) (NI) Act I am asking for in line with other countries  -
Finn's Law - (Penalties) a clause to be introduced in the Bill due to service animals being serving officers - that if a service animal is injured/killed while carrying out its duty in Northern Ireland -

⦁ INJURY - 5 years, serve full sentence (no parole). Fined £10,000.

⦁ DEATH - 10 years, to serve full sentence, (no parole). Fined £20,000.

The reason for the high fines is due to the financial cost towards these service animals for their training, equipment, vet bills etc.

These penalties will cover all service animals - Police Dogs, Prison Dogs, Fire Dogs and Search & Rescue (all volunteer groups included).

Please support all the animals by signing this petition to have Finn's Law in Northern Ireland and 5-10 year sentencing.  

Thank you.