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21 Feb, 2021 11:31

‘It’s our ethical duty’: Poland seeks to introduce retirement benefits for police dogs & horses

‘It’s our ethical duty’: Poland seeks to introduce retirement benefits for police dogs & horses

Poland’s interior ministry has unveiled a plan to provide dogs and horses with lifelong benefits after they retire from service. Under the plan, the animals will be entitled to government-funded food and veterinary care.

The retirement benefits plan for service animals that have worked for the police, border guard and fire services, was announced by Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski during a press conference on Thursday.

The conference was attended by several service dogs and their handlers. Horses, however, were not invited. Praising the service animals, Kaminski said the retirement benefits plan has been already submitted to the government.

They are extraordinary animals. Thanks to them, many human lives have been saved and many dangerous criminals have been caught. Caring for them is our ethical duty.

According to official figures, a total of 1207 dogs and 62 horses are currently serving branches of Poland’s interior ministry. While horses are used primarily in units of mounted police, dogs fill various roles, ranging from catching criminals to searching for missing persons during disasters.

At the moment, use of animals in the police service is regulated rather poorly – after retirement, they are basically on their own. In practice, their handlers usually adopt them, although they have to pay for animal’s food and care from their own pockets.

Under the new legislation, the retirees would be mandatorily taken in by animal care organizations, with their maintenance, food and medical treatment costs covered by the state. Their handlers will be given priority in adopting their four-legged comrades and, if they do, will get the maintenance costs covered as well.

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“We use the animals and then, after they finish service, we discard them,” a Polish border guard – handler of a dog called Elmo – told local media, adding that he “will not have to worry about caring from my own pocket for a dog that for years served the state and citizens for free.”

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