Link Helps Dutch “Animal Cops” Fight Abuse Awareness about the connections between animal abuse and human violence has helped encouraged Dutch officials to launch a new animal abuse prevention and response program. Since the end of 2011, law enforcement officials in The Netherlands have been educating a task force of “animal cops.”
Thom Verlinden is project manager of the newly‐created Bureau of Operational Expertise for the Animal Police of the Netherlands Police Agency (KLPD), which will provide back‐office services for these officers. A national call‐center (dial 144) has been established where citizens can report animal abuse, neglect and animals in need of emergency help. The hotline takes calls and dispatches serious cases to appropriate local authorities, humane organizations or the animal cops.Verlinden tells The LINK‐Letter that goals of the organization, which is still in early stages of development, are to support the 144 call center; provide knowledge and expertise to the animal cops; provide the Ministry of Security and Justice with management information regarding the fight against abuse; and to conduct research into the links between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Dial 112 if you're in trouble. Dial 144 if your dog is.
From October, police officers will be trained to answer the call, ready to enforce laws protecting pets, livestock and wildlife against abuse, the government announced Friday.
The first country to elect an animal rights party to parliament will begin training 125 police officers next month, who "will be 100 percent dedicated to tackling animal abuse," said Justice Ministry spokesman Job van de Sande.
The recruits will be drawn from the regular police force, already trained to fight armed criminals. A new special animal emergency number, 144, will also go into effect.
Marianne Thieme, leader of the Party for Animals, said last year the national animal protection agency gets some 8,000 reports of abuse each year.
But the driving force behind the creation of the animal cops was the Freedom Party of anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, which campaigned for better livestock welfare at national elections last year.
Wilders told The Associated Press his party pushed for the new corps during negotiations to form the current government. His party is not in the minority government but supports it on important votes in return for concessions, such as on tightening immigration.
"We strongly believe in tougher penalties for people who mistreat animals and police who are specialized in that," Wilders said in a text message to the AP. "Animal welfare is an important issue to may people and to us."
The government said prosecutors will also begin demanding tougher sentences for those convicted of abusing animals.
Animal police officers
In late 2011, the first animal police service, (animal cops) will start work to tackle cruelty to animals and animal neglect more effectively. There will also be a special alarm number, 144, for reporting animals in distress.
Dutch police to act against animal cruelty
The animal cops will take action against:
- animal cruelty and the killing of animals;
- animal neglect;
- sex with animals;
- animal pornography;
- animal baiting.
500 animal police officers by 2015
Within four years, the Dutch police will have 500 specialist animal police officers. These officers will also carry out other police tasks, but will receive specialist training at the Police College. The first 125 officers began their training in May 2011.
Training for animal police officers
The animal police officers training course covers:
- legislation on animal cruelty;
- recognising suffering in animals;
- the powers of animal police officers;
- confiscation of animals;
- procedures for reporting animal cruelty (such as drawing up an official report).
The training course combines theory and practice. It takes a total of 12 days, spread over three to four months. Six of those days are devoted to theory, and the other six to practical training. Trainees may for instance visit scenes where animal cruelty has been reported. At the end of the training course, the officers sit an examination, and if successful, they can start work as animal police officers.
Phone 144 to report animals in distress
At the same time as the first animal police officers start work in late October 2011, a new emergency number, 144, will be launched for reporting animals in distress. Calls to 144 ('Save an Animal') will be answered by staff of the Dutch Police Services Agency's emergency control centre.