A PETITION urging the Government to give specific legal protection to police dogs if they are attacked in the line of duty, has been backed by Dudley South MP Chris Kelly.

Currently, offenders only face a criminal damage charge if they injure or kill a police dog but the e-petition is calling on MPs explore the possibility of harsher punishment.

Mr Kelly said: “Attacks on serving police officers are intolerable but, equally, attacks on police dogs are also completely unacceptable.”

He urged people to sign the petition and said he was impressed that it had already attracted almost 7,000 signatures as it “demonstrates the strength of feeling on this issue and indeed confirms that we are a nation of dog lovers”.

The petition was set up by West Midlands Police puppy walker, Dave Hibbert who also set up a charity to support retired police dogs.

Mr Hibbert, who lives in Oldbury, added: “Police dogs do a fantastic job protecting our communities and on a daily basis there are examples where dogs have tracked crime suspects, uncovered stolen property or sniffed out vital evidence. 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.

“However, despite the invaluable work police dogs do for their communities, in law they are only considered property. At present an attack on a police dog would only be considered criminal damage which I don’t think provides enough of a punishment or deterrent.”

Mr Hibbert said attacks on police dogs seemed to be “a growing trend” and added: “I feel now is the time to push for a law change recognising the sterling work police dogs do for their communities.”

The petition needs 100,000 signatures in order to bring the matter to parliament for discussion.

Mr Hibbert added: “Even if I don’t reach that target I’m hoping the campaign will generate enough support so that MPs take notice and will take our campaign further.”

To sign the petition, visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57585