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Animal Welfare Police launched in Bulgaria

2015-07-08

Bulgaria has taken the first steps towards the establishment of an animal welfare police service. By a decree of the Minister of the Interior, each regional police department will assign 2 policemen who will be specialized in investigating animal-related crimes. This was announced last Thursday at a press-conference in Bulgarian parliament by Mr. Emil Radev, MEP and member the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals. A further agreement between the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food will also be signed in connection with the establishment of the unit, since the Animal Protection Act is within the jurisdiction of the agricultural authority.


Mr. Radev was confident that the specialized units will help speed up the process of investigation of crimes against animals. Currently less than 20% of all registered crimes against animals since 2011 have been resolved, according to official statistics. The animal welfare police officers will undergo trainings, organized together with animal welfare charities. 


FOUR PAWS, who have been campaigning actively for a specialized unit for investigation of animal-related crimes, welcome the launching of the animal welfare police in Bulgaria. According to Yavor Gechev, Head of Communications of FOUR PAWS Bulgaria, the establishment of animal welfare police is important not only for the protection of the animals, but also for the development of civic society in this country, as there is a close link between cruelty to animals and crimes against people. The organization is ready to provide assistance to the Bulgarian authorities with the training of the new unit by organizing seminars and inviting guest lecturers from countries where similar units already exist, like the Netherlands. 


Bulgarian animal welfare legislation is considered among the most progressive in the European Union. The Animal Protection Law, which entered into force in 2008, bans the use of wild mammals in circus, private keeping of big cats, apes and monkeys, as well as mass killing of stray animals as a method to control their population. Furthermore, in 2011 Bulgarian Parliament adopted changes in the Penal Code, which criminalise extreme forms of cruelty to animals and the organization of animal fights.


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