Norway Creates Police Force To Fight Animal Cruelty
In April, Norway took a giant step for animals and announced it will test out the first-ever animal police project.
Police in Sor-Trondelag, Norway, will implement a three-person force to specifically focus on animal rights. The force will have an investigator, a legal expert and a coordinator. The project will be tested out over the course of three years and is a combined effort between the state agricultural ministry and state police.
Norwegian minister of agriculture and food, Sylvi Listhaug, is one of the project’s supporters. She told AFP News, “First of all, it’s important to take care of our animals, so that they enjoy the rights they have and that there be a follow-up when their rights are violated.”
Listhaug believes this effort is not only good for animals, but humans as well, saying, “…studies show that some of those people who commit crimes and misdemeanors against animals also do the same to people.”
This is not the first step the country has taken to fight animal cruelty. Norway’s Animal Welfare Act, which was published in 2009, states that “Anybody who discovers an animal which is obviously sick, injured, or helpless, shall as far as possible help the animal. If it is impossible to provide adequate help, and the animal is domestic or a large wild mammal, the owner, or the police shall be alerted immediately.”
The four-chapter act details personal responsibility for animals and details punishment for those who do not abide by the act. Anyone not in compliance is fined, imprisoned for a maximum of one year, or both. Serious violations can come with a maximum of three years in prison.
According to reports from NRK, there were 38 cases of animal abuse reported to Norwegian police in 2014.
While Norway may be progressive in its new program, it is important to note that the country allows an annual whaling season. With 720 whales killed by 21 whaling vessels, 2014 was the deadliest whaling season for the country. The quota for the four-month hunting season is 1286. Only 5 percent of Norwegians eat whale meat, however, so the industry is primarily for export.
Luckily, conservation groups are putting pressure on Norwegian’s whaling industry. Recently, the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Animal Welfare Institute revealed that the Japanese government rejected whale meat from Norway. Tests revealed that there were pesticides and chemicals twice the allowed amount within the meat. Without an export market, the industry within Norway will struggle.
It is not uncommon, however, for countries like Norway to support animal rights while at the same time participating in practices that harm animals. According to the World Animal Protection organization, there are a number of countries that have contradicting legislation. The website highlights the best and worst countries for animals, with the United Kingdom, Austria, New Zealand and Switzerland being the countries that are kindest to animals. The data is gathered from legislation, efforts to improve animal welfare and recognize animals’ cognitive and emotional abilities.
The organization’s website offers a number of ways you can stop animal cruelty across the globe. There are a number of campaigns listed where you can help different animals.
Despite the contradictions, it is important to bring attention to the positive work Norway is doing with its new animal police initiative. If we spread the news, hopefully other countries will implement their own animal police unit.
Photo Credit: jimmyweee