PC Dave Wardell, from Buntingford, Herefordshire and his dog Finn, have been announced as the winners of the Kennel Club Friends for Life competition at Crufts 2019.
Retired Police Dog (RPD) Finn was stabbed several times as he protected Dave from an armed attack in 2016, saving his life. Finn was badly injured and his fight for his life led the duo to launch the ‘Finns Law’ campaign, highlighting the value of all service animals and the injustice of their treatment in the law.
The campaign is driving a new Bill which aims to make attacking a service animal a specific criminal offence, which through sustained campaigning by Dave and Finn, is now in its final stages in the House of Lords.
Finn, owned by PC Dave Wardell, was one of five hero dogs shortlisted for the Friends for Life competition in February. The finalists shared their unique stories of the impact that each dog has made on their life, with the nation voting for their favourite finalist. The winner was announced in the Resorts World Arena on the final day of the world’s greatest dog show by hero soldier Ben Parkinson.
The proud owner and deserving dog were presented their award and a cheque for £5,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for a charity of their choice. The four other finalists also received £1,000 for their chosen dog charity for making it to the prestigious final.
Speaking about their win, Dave said: “I can’t believe it. I feel so emotional. Just by being here we had won already. It has been a culmination of years of campaigning to get Finn’s story heard.
“I am so grateful to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for the prize money which we’re going to donate to German Shepherd Rescue Elite.”
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “We congratulate Dave and Finn on winning this year’s Friends for Life award; their story is incredibly moving and highlights what wonderfully loyal and brave companions our four-legged friends are. They are truly man’s best friend.
“Each and every one of the dogs in the final has helped to transform their owner’s lives, showing unwavering devotion and companionship. They are a great example of the positive difference that dogs can make. They are all winners and their bonds will last a lifetime.”
The five dogs which made the 2019 final were selected by a panel of judges from the Kennel Club, where they were chosen for the lifetime of love and loyalty they give to their owners and for the way that they have irrevocably changed their lives.