The words of the title were spoken by a police sergeant in the Netherlands’ special pet police. Yes, the Dutch have a pet police force and what is particularly interesting about it is that it was introduced by a far right party called Party for Freedom when they were in coalition with the mainstream Liberals when they led a minority government in the Netherlands in 2010. The far right party gave their support on key issues but demanded the formation of an 800 strong animal police force. Seven years later it still exists although it has slimmed down somewhat to 250 full-time members.
The work of the pet police force is described as a mixture of animal protection and human social services. You can see the connection. If there is an animal caretaking problem leading to animal cruelty or abuse then often there is also a human problem.
The police sergeant I referred to in the first paragraph is Sergeant Erik Smit. He is a 39 year veteran of the national police force. He works in The Hague area. Of the 3 million calls made to the police in that area about 3,000 concern animals.
A journalist writing for the New York Times describes the role of the Netherlands’ pet police as a Humane Society with guns, handcuffs and badges.
“Obviously, the first thing I do is to look after the animals, but often when you look further, you see that things aren’t going so well for the owner of the animals.”
He estimates that in 20% of the cases in which he is involved there is some sort of malicious intent (I presume with respect to abusing animals). The vast majority are, it seems, what I’d call ‘human issues’.
Marianne Thieme who is the head of the progressive Party for the Animals said:
“Animals and our entire society need the animal police. There is a direct link between violence against animals and violence against humans.”
The Party for the Animals amazingly holds five seats in the country’s parliament of which there are 150 seats. It is fantastic to hear that there are five members of Parliament in Holland who are there to represent the welfare of animals.
If they deal with a case of animal abuse such as when a man was convicted of having beaten and kicked his dog the punishment is generally community service because prosecutors believe that people learn more from doing community service than from a fine. Although the law allows for strong punishments when appropriate.
I sense that they have an enlightened approach to animal welfare in the Netherlands. In the UK the RSPCA have a quasi-police role in being able to prosecute cases of animal abuse.
The source is the Sydney Morning Herald. Their article appears to have come from The New York Times.