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North Wales police commissioner backs calls to protect service animals
PCC Arfon Jones (left) with volunteer dog welfare visitors Marie Jones and Claire Vickers.

Scheme launched to monitor police dog welfare

North Wales’ police and crime commissioner, Arfon Jones, has backed calls for new legislation to make it an offence to attack service animals.

Mr Jones said that it is wrong that police dogs and horses “risk harm on a regular basis” and that “legislation should be amended to give them the protection they deserve.”

His comments come after the proposed Service Animals Offences Bill - also known as Finn’s Law - was delayed after the government made an objection. To date, a petition calling for change has been signed by more than 127,000 people.

Finn’s Law was launched by PC Dave Wardell after he and his police dog Finn were stabbed during an armed robbery. The Hertfordshire officer suffered an injury to his hand, whilst Finn received multiple knife wounds to his head and chest.

The attacker was charged with actual bodily harm for the injuries to Mr Wardell. However, he was only charged with criminal damage for almost killing Finn.

Under current legislation, police animals such as dogs and horses are considered property and ‘criminal damage’ is currently the only available charge for someone who attacks one.

“Police dogs and horses play an important role in a whole range of areas like crowd control, drug detection, searching for missing people and catching offenders. It is wrong that these animals are treated as equipment because they are key members of the frontline policing team," said Mr Jones.

"They risk harm on a regular basis to keep their handlers and the public safe and legislation should be amended to give them the protection they deserve.”

Mr Jones has established a scheme to monitor the welfare of police dogs in North Wales. Under the scheme, volunteer dog welfare visitors make monthly unannounced visits to view dog training sessions or visit dog handlers whilst out on patrol.

“It is important we have independent checks and controls in place to ensure good animal welfare standards are robustly maintained. We must ensure our dogs are happy and well cared for,” said Mr Jones.

“What we need to do now is to put Finn’s Law on the statute book so we plug this unfair gap in the law. It is only right and proper that service animals are afforded the same level of protection as domestic animals.”

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ISFM announces first veterinary nurse conference

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 The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) - the veterinary division of International Cat Care - has announced its first annual conference dedicated to veterinary nurses. The day offers an opportunity to meet up with colleagues and enjoy more than five hours of stimulating CPD.

The conference is being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Stratford-Upon-Avon, on Saturday 15 September 2018. Tickets are £95 per person and include lunch, coffee breaks, downloadable proceedings and CPD certificate. For details and to book your place visit www.eventbrite.co.uk  

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WSAVA awards Australian vet with 'Next Generation’ award

Australian vet Dr Guyan Weerasinghe has been crowned winner of the WSAVA ‘Next Generation’ Veterinary Award. The award recognises those who graduated within the last 10 years and have made a significant contribution to the welfare of companion animals and the veterinary profession as a whole.

Besides maintaining a small animal caseload, Dr Weerasinghe works for the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture where he is involved with animal disease surveillance and increasing the public health risks in veterinary practice. He also collaborates on various One Health projects across Australia and gives regular talks on the impact of climate change on animal health and welfare.

Dr Weerasinghe will receive his award at the WSAVA World Congress 2018 (25-28 September).