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Retiring service animals in Poland will be cared for by the state

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Polish service dog

NEWS AND COMMENT: A good news animal story from Poland and a bit of equality between humans and animals. We need more of it. In recognition of the service that police dogs, fire service dogs and border guard dogs give to the country the Polish government has stated that they will pay for lifelong maintenance and veterinary care for the animals. This will not impinge on the right of their handlers during their working years to have a priority to adopt them in their retirement.

Polish service dog

Polish service dog. Photo: Twitter.

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At present the government’s service dogs are given no support on retirement. Mariusz Kaminksi, the interior minister, said that it was an ethical decision to make the changes. The government has a duty of care towards the animals for the extraordinary service delivered in apprehending dangerous crimimals and saving lives.

About a tenth of government agency dogs retire annually. Most are adopted by their handlers who pay for their care. It is not clear if the change in the law will apply to dogs already retired i.e. act retrospectively. And will the government provide funding to retired dogs in the care of their handlers?

I’d expect that they will as that would be the fairest option and in the spirit of equality which is what is behind the legislation. However, I may be mistaken as I’m told that Oskar, a recently retired police dog in the care of his handler will not be supported by the state.

It is estimated that the monthly food bill for dogs in £80 and £150 for horses. Veterinary operations can add £1,500. Will these one-off but large costs be paid for by the state?

Polish police employ Belgian Malinois mainly but also German shepherds and labradors, cocker spaniels, Jack Russell terriers and Newfoundlands. Well done the Polish government for an enlightened approach to animal welfare.

This appears to be in stark contrast to the UK, a supposed nation of animal lovers, where police dogs are often ‘destroyed’ by the state even when there are offers to adopt them. The Daily Mail reported on this in 2013. Does this still happen. In the 3 years before 2013 84 service dogs were killed by vets (288 dogs in the past 10 years). I say killed by vets as this is what it is. They call it euthanasia but it is not that. What is going on?