Finns Law

The introduction of Finn’s law to Northern Ireland – Protection of service animals

In April 2019, The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill, also known as Finn's Law, was introduced by Sir Oliver Heald MP to make it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to service animals in England and Wales.

The campaign for the bill followed the stabbing of a police dog, called Finn, whilst on duty in 2016.

The law will afford service animals, be they canine or equine, protection which was denied to them in the past, when causing death or injury to such an animal was prosecuted as ‘criminal damage’, the equivalent of breaking a window or damaging a police radio.

Service animals in Northern Ireland are currently deprived of the protection which is now available to their counterparts in the rest of the UK. The USPCA has written to the main political parties and the Permanent Secretary of DAERA to ask for arrangements to be made for an amendment to the Northern Ireland Welfare of Animals Act to bring similar protections to service animals in Northern Ireland.

Following our campaigning as a compassionate and caring animal welfare charity, we were delighted that on the 10th of February 2020 the Northern Ireland Assembly approved a motion to introduce Finn’s law.

We would now encourage the minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and his officials to act quickly in bringing forward the necessary public consultation and draft legislation, recognising there is a short window of opportunity as there is only two years left in the current assembly term.