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Being a police dog requires an above average level of bravery. The sort of pup that shudders at loud noises and shies away from other dogs - let alone people - need not apply. Even within the tough world of the K9 unit, however, Finn the police dog stands out.
Finn has tracked over 200 criminals in his time, according to his handler PC Dave Wardell, and copped some serious punishment for his trouble too. He's been stabbed with a ten-inch knife and nearly died, all in the line of duty. Now, he's got a law named after him that, if passed, will make it illegal to harm police dogs.
PC Wardell told the story of Finn's incredible bravery to the Daily Mail, explaining that the pair were chasing a fleeing suspect.
"Police officer with a dog! Stop! Stop or I'll send the dog!" he shouted. When the ignored him, PC Wardell let Finn go, only for the worst to occur. "As the man tried to scramble over a fence, Finn took hold of his lower leg in his mouth and pulled until the suspect was face-down on the grass."
"The man then suddenly flipped on to his back. I took hold of Finn's collar and told the suspect: 'You need to listen to me. You need to stop fighting my dog.' Suddenly, something caught my eye.
"It was a massive piece of dark metal which he appeared to be pulling from Finn's chest. It was covered in blood. It was a knife - as thick as a ruler. It was ridiculously huge, like a hunting knife - the blade alone must have been 10 inches long."
"'You've just stabbed my dog!' I gasped. 'You piece of shit!' Now the man lunged forward towards me. I had no time to react, but Finn did. He tugged harder on the man's leg, shaking it violently. All the suspect managed to do was slice open Finn's head, and as my hand was close by, he sliced that open too."
Finn was rushed to a 24-hour vet and was eventually moved to a specialist unit, where they managed to save him. The brave pup was given oxygen and morphine and vets attended to the stab wound, which had punctured a lung - the blade missed his heart by a matter of centimetres.
"Finn was linked up to all sorts of machines and breathing aids, and all I could see was my big, brave boy so horribly diminished," said PC Wardell. "Almost his whole body was shaved, beneath a blue protective jacket that kept all the tubes in place and protected his enormous surgical wounds."
Under current rules, someone who attacks a police dog is only punishable under criminal damage legislation, as animals are considered to the be the property of the police. Finn's Law seeks to make it a specific offence to attack police dogs, and a petition calling for it has been signed by over 100,000 people. The law has now been debated in Parliament and looks likely to become legislation.
As for Finn, he returned to active duty in December, just a month after his injury, and has now retired to live with PC Wardell. He's definitely earned it.
Words: Mike Meehall Wood