Law change will protect service dogs

Law change will protect service dogs

Service dogs in Northern Ireland are now well on their way to having greater protection whilst on duty thanks to a new piece of legislation that will make its way on to the Statute Book very shortly, announced Edwin Poots, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister.

The DAERA Minister said the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill, also known as ‘Finn’s Law’, had been approved by the Assembly and will become law in a few weeks’ time.

“I am delighted that our highly valued service dogs will very shortly have greater protection under this new law which will prevent those who attack or injure service animals from claiming self-defence and, thereby, exempting themselves from prosecution for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal,” he said.

“I take the welfare of these brave animals very seriously and believe this law change, which brings us in line with the rest of the UK, will act as a serious deterrent to those who think that they can harm these animals without repercussion.”

Minister Poots also thanked the Assembly parties for supporting the new legislation.

“I am grateful that this important Bill received substantial cross-party support enabling it to pass swiftly and speedily. It is very important that the Assembly has sent out this message that Northern Ireland is united against animal cruelty and ensured that parity is maintained with the rest of the UK.”

The new legislation will apply to service animals while they are on active duty in Northern Ireland and will include dogs used by the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Belfast Harbour Police, Belfast International Airport Constabulary and the Ministry of Defence Police.

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