First 125 animal cops to get started before the end of this year

The first 125 animal cops will start fighting animal abuse and neglect before the end of this year. The animal cop training of police officers will start in May. The first trained animal cops will hit the streets in October. At the same time an emergency number (1-4-4) will be introduced to report emergencies and cases of animal abuse. From 1 October, the Public Prosecution Service will also demand heavier penalties for people who are guilty of animal abuse.

Minister of Security and Justice Opstelten and State Secretary of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation Bleker write this in a letter to the Lower House today.

It was agreed in the coalition agreement that a total of 500 animal cops will take office in this government’s term of office. Each year the Police Staff College will train 125 police officers as animal cops. The first batch of animal cops will consist of basic police care officers. After their training, these officers are ready to take up their duties in the fight against animal abuse. Next year employees of other police services, such as the criminal investigation service, will also be trained as animal cops. The animal cops will remain all-round policemen, qualified to perform all policing tasks.

The animal cop’s main duty is to fight animal abuse and animal neglect. In the fulfilment of its duties the animal cop squad will take preventive measures, provide aid, enforce the law and take criminal action. The animal cops will also assess the reports received via the 1-4-4 hotline. For that purpose the hotline will be included in the infrastructure of the National Police Services Agency.

If emergencies are reported, the animal cop squad, as a so-called immediate assistance organization, will take immediate action. In less urgent cases the police will judge whether the animal cops should be called in, or specialized services such as the new Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (nVWA) and the Inspectorate of the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals (LID). Both services play a supervising and law enforcing role (taking criminal and administrative action) in cases of animal abuse. The nVWA mainly monitors industrial sectors and the LID is aimed specifically at fighting animal abuse by private owners who keep animals as a hobby. As a result of the arrival of the animal cop squad the police will focus especially on taking criminal action, in addition to prevention, assistance and enforcement.

To intensify the fight against animal abuse, the Public Prosecution Service will start to demand heavier penalties against suspects of animal abuse from October this year. In the next few months, the Public Prosecution Service will investigate whether a tougher approach can be implemented as part of current prosecution policy. If necessary, prosecution policy will be adapted to that end.