05/11/10 Police does not Need Horses, nor do Horses Need Police
Animal Friends opposes to using horses by police
After the reaction of many citizens, Animal Friends sent a letter to Minister of Internal Affairs Tomislav Karamarko which indicate the full ethical and economic inadequacy of using horses in police work , asking him to stop looking for any plans regarding the purchase of horses in order to protect the interest of humans, animals and the reputation of the representatives of the Croatian authorities.
Animal Friends also addressed the Minister of Agriculture Petar Cobankovic, given that the use of horses in the police is not in the spirit of the Animal Protection Act, as well as Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor seeking from her urgent commitment to not introduce horses in the police, which is consistent with the interests and will of the majority of Croatian citizens, as well as basic principles of animal protection.
In their letter to the Minister Karamarko Animal Friends state they are unpleasantly surprised by his announcements in the media that the police in the future intends to continue in situations of disturbances and fighting at football matches to use horses. They find his supporting arguments unconvincing and unrealistic. The Minister's statement is based mostly on an appeal to the tradition of the police horses in other countries, that Croatia does not have. Also, his belief that horses will be used to bring stadium riots under control is without foundation. Their use in settling social disorders, as is the case in some other countries, would be the opposite of the civilizational solving of social problems, and that is exactly the kind of use that he alone resolutely refuted.
After his public appearance Animal Friends recieved numerous calls from citizens revolting following the fact that in time of recession, when people struggle to survive, the Ministry and Government make this entirely unneccessary and inefficient call in solving stadium hooliganism, spending huge amounts of money from the budget, while neglecting the ethical treatment of animals.
Animal Friends finds this decision unreasonable and inappropriate for several reasons:
- Vast and socially inappropriate expenses: the basic equipment for one horse alone are saddle, neoprene horse-girth to tighten the saddle, stirrups, equipment bag, helmet, two pairs of shin pads, combination bridle, reflective bridle, saddle and legs accessories, horse training ball and for one horseman are trousers, glows, summer and winter riding boots, helmet, knee and elbow pads, protective coat, plus additional expenses like police uniform, the purchase of a horse, food, adequate accomodation, regular and additional veterinary expenses, farrier expenses (monthly), elementary and special equestrian training, as well as elementary and special horse training, in order to be able to operate in highly stressful situations. Overall expenses of introducing horses into Croatia's police forces would reach several million kunas, which is disgraceful and morally unacceptable since most people in Croatia struggle to make ends meet.
- Exploitation of horses in the 21st century is a primitive remnant of past times, and we find it inappropriate, no matter to what purpose, taking into consideration all the other available means and aids: Horses are very sensitive and intelligent social animals, and their place is not on the streets, nor in solving conflicts among people. For police usage horses undergo a difficult training process of mental and physical 'desensibilization' in order to be able to endure high risk situations, including aggressive masses of people, noise, blows, shoving, and pyrotechnic devices for signal or sound. Even after a long-term training there is no guarantee that the horse will not give into panic, which could lead to difficult injuries for people on the ground as well as for the equestrian, to the horse itself, and to the property. Exposed to stress when feeling threatened a horse will first attempt to flee, however, if prevented, (either by the equestrian, the physical barriers, or by the masses of people, etc.), a horse will panic and start to struggle for survival, which includes striking with its (shod) hooves (which can break human bones). This kind of blow can often go unnoticed by the equestrian in stressful situations. Some of the most frequent injuries are fractured bones and skull, people can be trampled over, etc. Random passersby or people that are not taking part in riots can also easily get hurt this way. Horses often get injured as well: head and body injuries (stab wounds, haematoma), leg injuries – fractures, especially as a result of falling, injuries caused by pyrotechnic devices, behavioral disturbances, etc. Equestrians can get their bones fractured as a result of falling (it is especially dangerous if they get entangled in straps), they can get injured in bringing riots under control, get haematomas, cuts, or suffer burns. Riding alone is considered a high risk activity and falling of a horse can have fatal consequences.
- Horses are useless in a stadium/auditorium because their possibilities of movement are limited. The police and the administration of justice in the cases of office riots can enforce already existing laws concerning police authority and the Law for Prevention of Disorder at Sport Events. Efficient measures against football hooliganism have been well known and elaborated for many years now in Europe. They do not require any additional financial investments, and since 2007 they have been successfully implemented, which can be seen in the example of hooligans in Switzerland: travelling restrictions, obligation to report to police regularly, preventive 24 hour custody, no one is allowed to have pyrotechnic or any potentially dangerous devices during the game, etc.
Also, the police have clear authority to ban hooligans from sport events who already have records.
In countries that use police horses, this practice is mostly based on tradition, not efficiency. People and associations all around the world demand this practice to be entirely abolished, regardless of tradition. Exploiting horses for police purposes is contrary to the Animal Protection Act.
Animal Friends considers, with valid arguments, that the Croatian police has enough instruments to keep stadium riots under control without the use of horses, and that exploiting horses in this way in the 21st century is entirely unneccessary, impractical, as well as in a moral sense redundant to the police. Animal Friends requests that the announcements of introducing horses for police purposes will not come to realization because of animal protection, inefficiency of using horses in calming of hooligan riots, particularly with regard to the social situation in Croatia, with its large number of unemployed and the poverty of citizens, who would have experienced such a decision as not argumentative money-spending of the government at a time when, due to the overall situation in the country, they cannot afford a dignified life.