Should more be done to protect police dogs?
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Should police dogs be treated as property? Currently harming or even killing a police dog is viewed as criminal damage – meaning it may not even result in a prison sentence. Dave Hibbert, a West Midlands Police dog walker, is campaigning to change this in order to protect the animals serving in the police force. He hopes a review in current laws will result in attacks on these animals being viewed by UK courts differently. Hibbert said: "Police dogs do a fantastic job protecting our communities … They are the first to be called in when dangerous situations occur and they often put themselves on the line to protect their fellow officers.” Birmingham based police dog Gino and MET dog Fuzz are just two examples why Hibbert feels laws need to change. Gino was punched, kicked and even strangled with his own collar whilst Fuzz was struck with a metal bar; however both dogs continued to help in the reprimanding of suspects. Despite the obvious danger they faced neither attack was acknowledged in court, despite Fuzz needing veterinary treatment for cuts around his eye and on his nose. Hibberts’ dog Usha has also been the subject of assault after being beaten with a glass bottle. Assaults on serving animals seem to be on the rise and with very little being done to prevent this or punish attackers. If similar laws to those in the U.S are put in place, attacks will be treated the same as assaulting an officer – resulting in a much larger sentence, something Hibbert believes would serve as a better deterrent and "make thugs think twice before lashing out." He adds: "Assistance dogs, such as guide dogs, have been recognised as being an extension of the assisted person and I'm campaigning to see police dogs classed as representing an extension of their police handler”. He has submitted a petition to the Ministry of Justice and needs 100,000 signatures before it’s brought to the attention of parliament. To sign the online petition visit: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57585
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