Courageous Finn may be retired but his schedule is busier than ever.
Now he is to receive the prestigious PDSA Gold Medal – the non-military equivalent of the PDSA Dickin Medal.
Instituted in 2002, the PDSA Gold Medal, also known as the ‘Animal George Cross’, is awarded to civilian animals for life-saving bravery and exceptional devotion to duty. Finn has been awarded for the incredible bravery he showed one night back in 2016 where he sustained near-fatal stab wounds while on duty.
Finn and handler Police Constable Dave Wardell from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Dog Unit were called to an address in Stevenage. The dog unit were instructed to give chase to a suspect evading arrest and who was believed to be armed with a baton or stick.
PD Finn caught up with the suspect, getting hold of his leg and 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 Finns head was sliced open.”
But Finn didn’t let go, allowing PC Wardell to wrestle the assailant to the ground, where he eventually dropped the weapon. Once officers had joined them, Finn was rushed off for emergency surgery to save his life. He made a miraculous recovery and 11 weeks later he was back on active duty.
PC Wardell adds, “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’m bursting with pride that Finn is receiving this award – he is a true gem and embodies everything that is special about police dogs in the country. He is my best friend and I owe him my life.”
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.”
Chief Constable Charlie Hall, who, alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner nominated PD Finn for the award, said, “Our Police Dog teams perform outstanding work and are a great source of pride for the Force. Finn’s story highlights the vital role that these animals play in our society and the dangers that our officers face on a daily bases. I am thrilled that Finn’s actions are being recognised.”
Finn’s act of bravery captured the hearts of the nation and has inspired #FinnsLaw. This campaign aims to change the laws that surround service animals, to provide greater protection and prosecution powers. The Second Reading is expected to take place on the 27th April in Parliament.
David Lloyd, the PCC for Hertfordshire, said, “Finn’s horrific injuries and the bravery he showed that night lit a fire in the hearts of the British public. Attacking a police animal should not be treated in the same way as damaging a police car. The public clearly think the same, and the fact PD Finn’s actions have prompted this response shows how much the public care about our animals important contribution to policing.”
Finn will be awarded the medal in a formal presentation on Sunday 6 May, at the PDSA PetLife ’18 festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. You can also read Finn’s story in his new book Fabulous Finn: The Brave Police Dog Who Came Back from the Brink.
Read our interview with Police Constable Dave Wardell in our April issue out now!