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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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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
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New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”