Four-legged military and police working animals put their lives in danger for the benefit of humans, for many years before they retire. Dogs support search and rescue operations, they find drugs or explosives, while horses carry military and police officers during parades and daily patrolling. Despite their faithful service, the animals are not entitled to state pensions, and once they retire, they become dependents of their military or police trainers and caregivers. Joanna Stojer-Polańska, Ph.D., a criminologist from SWPS University in Katowice has been highlighting this issue for many years. Her publications and educational efforts have contributed to the draft legislation on the status of animals in police and military forces, which covers all aspects of animal services from recruitment to retirement, and pensions.

Problem

Lack of legislation ensuring pension for military and police working animals

Police and military working dogs and horses in some of their professional tasks and operations. The animals helps to save human lives, protect people, and participate in representative functions. Close to 1,200 dogs and over 60 horses serve in the units subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior and Administration alone. Annually, approximately 10 percent of the working animals are retired. Once the animals retire, they usually become dependents of their professional supervisors and caregivers. The police and military personnel who continue to take care of retired animals do not receive any financial compensation from the state for the their food or medical expenses. Ensuring that elderly animals have decent living conditions, appropriate food and veterinary care is often expensive the caretakers sometimes are not able to cover the costs.

So far, dog pensions have only been regulated in the Customs and Tax Services. But animals work in many other types of units. Dogs work for police, border patrol units, railway police, military police, penitentiary services, state security services, the Polish army, Straż Marszałkowka (a security unit protecting the Polish Parliament), local police units, and search and rescue services. Horses work for the police, border patrol units, municipal police, and the Polish army.

Will pensions for the police and military working animals become a norm in Poland? Will this issue be finally regulated after years of discussions and highlighting the problem?

Solution

Regulation on the status of police and military working animals from recruitment to retirement

The contribution of our researcher, including her tireless education campaign and writing on the subject, have influenced the development of an amendment to the law on animals employed by forces subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, as well as the penitentiary services, the Polish army, and the security unit responsible for the protection of the Polish Parliament (Sejm), which was approved by the legislature in June 2021. The regulation includes comprehensive solutions concerning the status of animals from the moment of their recruitment to state services, during the years of service, and their retirement.

Last year, Dr. Stojer-Polańska has been awarded the title of Popularyzator Nauki 2020 (Promoter of Science 2020) in the Researcher catetory by the “Science in Poland” service of the Polish Press Agency (PAP) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. Her efforts in popularizing topics concerning various aspects of police work and criminology highlighted the work of the four-legged “police and army officers” and brought the issue to public attention. For years, working dogs have been frequent guests at numerous lectures, conferences and workshops conducted by Dr. Stojer-Polańską at SWPS University. During her lectures on criminal psychology, she often argued that officers who take care of retired police and military working dogs should be entitled to state funds covering food and veterinary services, while riders who take care of the retired ex-police or ex-military horses, should be provided with a place in a stable, ensuring food and adequate care for the animal. Dr. Stojer-Polańska, in cooperation with SWPS University, also organized various events and campaigns aimed at the promotion and garnering support for a veteran animal shelter and hospice Stowarzyszenie “Zakątek Weteranów” (Veteran’s Nook” Society). In collaboration with the President of the Society, Staff Aspirant Grzegorz Chmielewski and a political scientist Dr. Paulina Maria Wiśniewska, Dr. Stojer-Polańska has written a petition concerning state pensions for all working dogs and horses, addressed to Polish government, members of parliament, and senators.

Moreover, she authored numerous publications on working animals addressed to children and youth – Psy domowe i służbowe (Companion Dogs vs. Working Dogs) co-written with Joanna Pulit, Konie domowe i służbowe (Farm and Racing Horses vs. Horses in Police and Military Service), co-written with Danuta Piniewska-Róg, a series of mystery short stories Niezwykłe przygody funkcjonariuszy na czterech łapach i kopytach. W trosce o bezpieczeństwo (Extraordinary adventures of four-legged police and militaryofficers. Standing guard, a collection of stories based on true events Psy na tropie i w akcji (Search and action dogs), and a handbook Pierwsza pomoc dla psów (First aid for dogs), co-written with Katarzyna Dołębska.

Why?

We care about the world sensitive to animal rights and needs

SWPS University has always been promoting the rights of not only police and military working animals, but also farm animals, family pets, and wild animals. In our opinion, openness towards animal needs, and appreciation of animals’ contribution to human safety and health are denominators of modern and progressive society. Luckily, nowadays, state institutions increasingly often recognize animal rights. The police and military working dogs and horses are certainly among the animals, which should be entitled to decent living conditions at the end of life and which should have this right guaranteed by law.

SWPS University collaborates with specialists who promote education on the legal aspects of animal rights and includes new areas of teaching concerning animal welfare. Among our graduate certification programs we offer Veterinary and sanitary law and a new interdisciplinary program in Animal rights.

Joanna Stojer-Polanska

Joanna Stojer-Polańska

is a criminologist. She was named Popularyzator Nauki 2020 (Promoter of Science 2020) in the Researcher category by the “Science in Poland” service of the Polish Press Agency (PAP) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. She a strong proponent of animal rights, especially the right to state pension for police and military working animals. She researches the dark figure of crime, unreported crimes that are not included in police statistics. She analyzes cases of suspicious deaths, such as murders, suicides and accidents. Recipient of the eNgage research grant from the Foundation for Polish Science for a research project entitled „Kryminalistyka, czyli rzecz o szukaniu śladów oraz zwierzętach na służbie” (Criminalistics: story about tracing evidence and animals employed by the Police). She co-authored an interdisciplinary publication Samobójstwa. Stare problemy. Nowe rozwiązania (Suicides: Old Problems, New Solutions) (2013). At SWPS University in Katowice she teaches classes in criminalistics, criminology and its aspects such as the dark figure of crime. She is an author of books on criminal cases and animals in police and military service.

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Dr. Joanna Stojer-Polańska Named 2020 Promoter of Science

Dr. Stojer-Polańska, from SWPS University in Katowice, was named Popularyzator Nauki 2020 (Promoter of Science 2020) in the Researcher category.

www.swps.pl/25-lat