Thank you for your email regarding police support animals and their protection from violence. I am very grateful for the service that these animals, and their handlers, provide and strongly agree that their protection should be upheld.
Under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is an offence to cause an animal unnecessary suffering, with the maximum penalty being six months imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both. The maximum fine was increased from £20,000 in 2015. Additionally, attacks on police dogs may lead to a higher sentence as such an action could be classed as criminal damage, receiving a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.
I agree with you that to term an animal as “property” is problematic. Government have begun to explore whether there is more that the law should do to offer the most appropriate protections to Police animals and all working animals. I will pay close attention to this. I will also write to Brandon Lewis MP asking him to speed up this work so that assistance dogs are adequately protected.
Thank you once again for contacting me, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me if you require any further information.
Derek Thomas MP