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Man thought to be first charged under Finn's law after police dog attack

Former police dog Finn, with Senior Doorkeeper David Pryor, after he watched in the House of Commons as MPs backed attempts to give service animals greater protection from attacks. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday February 8, 2019. Finn joined Pc Dave Wardell in the public gallery to see the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill move a step closer to becoming law. The Bill, nicknamed Finn's Law, removes a section of the current law of self-defence often used by those who harm a service animal while committing a crime. See PA story COMMONS Finn. Photo credit should read: Jennifer McKiernan/PA Wire

By Richard Vernalls, PA

A man is thought to have become one of the first people to be charged with the new offence of causing unnecessary suffering to a police dog introduced under Finn's Law.

A 29-year-old man, from Liverpool, was charged under the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act 2019, after the canine suffered a stab wound to its head, Staffordshire Police said.

Dan O'Sullivan, from the Litherland area of the city, has also been charged with five counts of assaulting police officers, possession of offensive weapons and affray.

It follows an incident in which police were called to reports of an armed male in Town Road, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, at about 2.15pm on Monday.

As officers tried to arrest the suspect, police dog Audi received a stab wound to the side of his head.

Detective Inspector Stephen Ward said: "We're pleased that no officers came to serious harm and PD Audi is now recovering from his ordeal.

"His injuries seem to be soft tissue-related and he is likely to be out of action for a short time."

Last month, the new legislation aimed at giving greater protection to all service animals, came into force.

The law, which introduced tougher penalties for those convicted of harming police dogs and horses, entered the statute book following the high-profile case of police dog Finn, who was stabbed while chasing a suspect.

The dog nearly died from wounds to his chest and head but as the law then stood the offence could only be classified as criminal damage.

Pic by Jennifer McKiernan/PA Wire