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Helsinki police to establish Finland’s first animal protection unit

The new unit will help to expedite investigations of cases in which animals are the victims of crimes carried out by humans or other animals.

Kaksi koiraa poseeraa kameralle.
File photo. Image: Jenni Joensuu / Yle

The Helsinki police department is establishing a special unit exclusively devoted to crimes relating to animals and their rights.

The unit will also become a public resource, a place to which individuals can turn for advice about animal rights questions.

The department's chief investigator, Jonna Turunen, said that the unit will work closely with veterinarians and other groups such as animal rights organisations.

"And one should not forget to mention there will be other cooperation between the police and other authorities," Turunen said.

Over the past five years, animal-related crimes have increased rapidly, according to Helsinki police data. In August Yle News reported that police departments around the country receive reports of dog attacks about twice every day.

The Helsinki police animal unit, the first of its kind in the country, will be responsible for helping to resolve animal-related conflicts between owners, hunting offenses, animal breeding violations and the illegal import of animals.

Animal rights group gives thumbs up

Kati Pulli, chief at SEY, the Finnish Federation for Animal Welfare Associations, welcomed the news in a press release.

"SEY is pleased to hear about the animal rights unit. SEY has long advocated for the need of specialised police officers and prosecutors in Finland," Pulli said.

She said that a separate, specialised unit that deals solely with animal rights is an essential prerequisite to properly investigating animal-related crimes.

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