Tayside’s top cop has supported moves to toughen up the law on attacks against police dogs.
The Scottish Conservatives have proposed a new offence that targets those who assault animals performing public service.
On a visit to the dog unit at Baluniefield, Dundee, Tory MSP Liam Kerr said the “patchwork” of existing legislation fails to properly protect them.
Mr Kerr, who represents the North East, said: “Service animals are highly-trained members of Police Scotland and are repeatedly put in dangerous situations.
“Police dogs and horses undergo extensive training. We ask them to work for us and risk their lives to keep us safe and yet the law does not fully protect them when they are hurt.
“Introducing a criminal offence of causing injury to police animals will ensure criminals who attack police animals are dealt with effectively, raise awareness of the severity of the crime and deter further attacks.”
Guide dogs and similar assistance animals could also be covered, as well as those in the emergency services and military.
The Scottish Conservative bid was inspired by a campaign in England, which was triggered by the frenzied stabbing of Hertfordshire hound Finn while on police duty.
Finn, who survived, suffered the injuries as he tried to protect his handler PC Dave Wardell during an attempted arrest in 2016.
Chief Inspector Neil Anderson, from the Tayside division, said: “Police Scotland is not, and cannot, actively support any campaign to have laws created or amended.
“However, this does not prevent us from welcoming any potential legislation which can provide further support to our officers, dogs, horses, or other specialist units in the future, particularly in areas beneficial to their welfare.”