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Half Mag / Half Zine

Animal Rights groups say it is a “matter of principle” that the authorities stop using dogs and horses in situations of public unrest and protests. There are too many instances of violence against service animals for this to be tolerated any longer, a coalition including Animal Rights, 1037againstanimalcruelty, Verzamelpunt acties tegen dierenleed, Animal Earth, Veggie Squad, Comité Dierennoodhulp, Dierenrechten Alliantie, Rechten voor al wat leeft, Diervriendelijk Nederland and Bite Back said to newspaper Trouw.

During the protests against coronavirus restrictions that escalated this past two victims, service animals were often targeted by protesters. Pictures from Eindhoven on Sunday showed how a horse spooked during a protest. A week earlier, during a demonstration, on the Museumplein in Amsterdam, several horses were struck over the head by demonstrators. Back in 2019, a horse was hit by a tractor during the farmers’ protests.

The police say that their animals are trained to handle such high-stress situation, but the coalition believes training is not enough, spokesperson Erwin Vermeulen said to Trouw. “It does not protect against heavy fireworks or tractors.”

“While in the past, people still seemed to show respect for service animals, in the recent riots around the coronavirus measures or the fireworks ban, gross violence was targeted directly towards the animals. Police personnel chose this profession and accepted the situation they could end up in; the dogs and horses did not,” Vermeulen said.

According to the coalition, using horses and dogs in violent protests is not of this time. “Calvary has disappeared from modern armies. It is time also for animals to be replaced in the police force by motorized means of transport and innovative technologies.”