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Police begin probe into guard dog association's training methods

Video material released by an animal rights organisation showed dogs being punched, kicked and strangled.

Kuvakaappaus Oikeutta eläimille -yhdistyksen julkistamalta videolta.
Screenshot of a video published by Finnish animal rights organisation Oikeutta eläimille (Rights for Animals). Image: Oikeutta eläimille

The police departments of Eastern Uusimaa and Southwest Finland announced on Friday that they had launched preliminary investigations into the training methods of guard dogs.

The announcement comes after the Finnish animal rights organisation Oikeutta eläimille (Rights for Animals) released video footage captured via hidden cameras which revealed how guard dogs were subjected to violence during training, such as kicking, punching in the head and strangulation.

According to the animal rights group, the violent methods were used during training organised by the Southwest Finland and Kotka subdivisions of the German Shepherd Association.

Eastern Uusimaa police suspect that some of the video material has been filmed in its region, and the matter is now being investigated as an animal welfare offence.

Detective Inspector Petri Eronen told Yle that the investigation is still in its infancy and any potential suspects cannot yet be identified.

"We are now investigating the issue and going through the material that has been handed over to us and which has also been made public," Eronen said, adding that the police may provide further details towards the end of next week.

Police call for restraint in online discussions

In southwestern Finland, police have urged people to exercise restraint in online discussions related to the content of the videos. According to a statement released by the police department, innocent people have been accused of being involved.

"The police call for calm in the relevant discussions and remind people that intimidation and the sharing of information of completely unrelated associations, hobby clubs and people may be considered a criminal offence," the department’s statement said.

On Thursday, the German Shepherd Association announced that it would suspend the training of guard dogs and also urged its subdivisions to refrain from training activities for the time being.

In addition, the subdivisions of Southwest Finland and Kotka have been temporarily suspended.

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