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Animal Police Train To Handle Animal Abuse In Netherlands

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ANIMAL POLICE COPS DUTCH
AP File
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Dial 112 if you're in trouble. Dial 144 if your dog is.

From October, police officers will be trained to answer the call, ready to enforce laws protecting pets, livestock and wildlife against abuse, the government announced Friday.

The first country to elect an animal rights party to parliament will begin training 125 police officers next month, who "will be 100 percent dedicated to tackling animal abuse," said Justice Ministry spokesman Job van de Sande.

The recruits will be drawn from the regular police force, already trained to fight armed criminals. A new special animal emergency number, 144, will also go into effect.

Marianne Thieme, leader of the Party for Animals, said last year the national animal protection agency gets some 8,000 reports of abuse each year.

But the driving force behind the creation of the animal cops was the Freedom Party of anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, which campaigned for better livestock welfare at national elections last year.

Wilders told The Associated Press his party pushed for the new corps during negotiations to form the current government. His party is not in the minority government but supports it on important votes in return for concessions, such as on tightening immigration.

"We strongly believe in tougher penalties for people who mistreat animals and police who are specialized in that," Wilders said in a text message to the AP. "Animal welfare is an important issue to may people and to us."

The government said prosecutors will also begin demanding tougher sentences for those convicted of abusing animals.

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