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What is Finn’s Law?

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Finn’s Law (The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill) passed and came into force on the 8th June 2019. The passing of the bill is a key advancement in legislation for animal welfare in the United Kingdom.

The legislation prevents anybody who attacks or injures service animals from claiming self-defense. As a result, it is now a criminal offence to injure service animals.

The Government enacted Finn’s law following an attack on a police dog. Finn (pictured below) sustained a stab injury while pursuing a suspect. Finn received serious wounds to the head and chest. For this crime the suspect received a charge for criminal damage.

The new legislation sees a change in UK law that no longer regards service animals as mere property, allowing for further legal remedies other than criminal damage.

The bill passed all readings necessary for enaction at the House of Commons and received royal assent in 2019. Scotland has incorporated the law into their animal welfare legislation during September 2019 alongside Northern Ireland, who incorporated the law in February 2020.

The bill is now in effect in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and should be acknowledged when addressing any question in relation to the rights of service animals.

The campaign by PC Wardell (pictured above) alongside the subsequent inception of the new law increases the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences to five years.

Previously the maximum sentence for animal cruelty was set at 51 weeks and included other penalties such as a £20,000 fine and lifetime ban from the keeping of animals under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Further Reading

Finn’s Law Press Release – UK Government

Finn’s Law Website


OSCOLA reference this article: ‘What Is Finn’s Law?’ (LawLessons, 2021) <> accessed 8th July 2022.

Harvard reference this article: LawLessons. 2021. What is Finn’s Law?. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8th July 2022].

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