Police dogs have been trialling body armour to wear on duty, in the wake of the near-fatal stabbing of PD Finn.
Finn suffered serious injuries when he and handler PC Dave Wardell apprehended an armed suspect, in 2016.
And since then PC Wardell has been campaigning for Finn’s Law which provides increased protection for service animals and which became law this month.
Now Herts Police has also been trialling body armour for dogs, designed to protect the animal’s vital organs between the chest and rib cage
The trial is part of an ongoing investigation into what protection could be provided for police dogs on duty, said to be as a result of the attack in PD Finn.
And it is highlighted in the draft of the ‘Independent Dog Welfare Lay Visitors Scheme Annual Report’, shared with the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Panel on June 13. Six pieces of the specialist body armour were purchased as part of the trial, by the Beds, Cambs and Herts Dog Unit. And after six months of trials, it says, vets and physiotherapists assessed the dogs as they completed a number of exercises - with and without the armour. andlers gave positive feedback during the trial - but there are not yet plans to roll out the armour more widely. Hertfordshire Police have said the trial by the dog unit - including consideration of other options to protect police dogs on duty - is continuing. The animals from the unit are used by the three forces for searching, tracking, arrest work and crowd control - with some trained to find drugs cash, drugs, cash, guns, weapons and explosives. During 2018/19, the team of six dog welfare visitors made 44 visits to look into the welfare of the animals - resulting in 214 dog checks. According to the annual report “no serious concerns” were raised by the visitors, who commented on the dogs’ healthy weight, the good condition of their coats and “the clear and obvious good relationships between the police dogs and their handlers”. They did raise “slight” issues with chewed matting in police vehicles - and now replacement matting is available to handlers when needed. In his foreword to the report, Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said: “I am pleased that no serious concerns were raised by the volunteers over this period an that the volunteer found the dogs to be in good condition. “I would like to thank all the volunteers for their dedication and commitment to the scheme throughout 2018/19.”