On 5 October 2016, Police Dog Finn and handler Police Constable Dave Wardell from for the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Dog Unit were called to an address in Stevenage. The dog unit was instructed to give chase to a suspect who was evading arrest and who was believed to be armed with a baton or stick.
During the pursuit, PC Wardell released PD Finn with a command to detain the suspect. The suspect attempted to jump over a fence but Finn kept pace and was able to take hold of his leg, foiling his escape.
PC Wardell explains, “I joined Finn, grabbing his collar and straddling his back to give him support as he held the suspect. In a split second, I saw the man lunge at Finn’s side with a weapon. As he pulled away, I saw a 10-inch blade, covered in Finn’s blood.
“The man then lunged at me with the blade but Finn, despite being seriously hurt, grabbed hold of the suspect and stopped him from landing a fatal blow. My hand was cut in the struggle and Finn’s head was sliced open.
“Despite suffering two serious stab wounds, Finn’s grip on the suspect remained – pulling at the suspect’s leg to stop him from jumping the fence.”
Finn’s constant grip enabled PC Wardell to wrestle the assailant to the ground, where he eventually dropped the weapon. Other officers joined the team to assist and Finn was rushed to the nearest vet for life-saving treatment.
PC Wardell continues; “Finn’s determination, even after he’d been seriously hurt, was absolutely faultless. He definitely saved my life that night and stopped an armed criminal from posing a threat to other officers or the public.
“I am bursting with pride that Finn is receiving this award – he is a true gem and embodies everything that is special about police dogs in this country. He is my best friend and I owe him my life.”
PC Wardell also needed medical treatment for a stab wound he sustained to his hand.
Following the attack, Finn made a miraculous recovery and was back on active duty just 11 weeks later.
PDSA’s Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said: “Finn displayed outstanding devotion that night, both to his duties and to his handler. For his actions, Finn is an extremely worthy recipient of the PDSA Gold Medal.”
Finn’s remarkable story inspired a campaign called #Finnslaw. This seeks to lobby Government to change the laws that surround service animals, to provide greater protection and prosecution powers.