THE SEVEN German and Belgian Shepherd dogs that are part of the Local Police Canine Unit in Alicante – a unit of high-regard nationally which has previously received many awards – are left alone in their cages for 16 hours a day between 2.00pm and 6.00am for two weeks each month.
The situation comes as a result of the restructuring of the service which was promoted by Diego Maroto, head of the Legal Department of the Department of Security – a position that was augmented by Alicante Mayor Gabriel Echavarri.
Until the service was restructured, there was always someone present in the afternoons/ early evenings at the facility where the dogs sleep.
Police sources have confirmed that since March 6, there has also been no provision in place for the cleaning of the dog kennels, nor their cages.
Agents have begun taking some of the dogs home with them in the afternoons and even at weekends when off duty, claiming the conditions constitute animal cruelty. They fear that the dogs will become stressed and lose the abilities that they have been so rigorously trained to have, suffer anxiety and potentially start to bite.
The canine unit carries out daily inspections to detect drugs in public places such as the bus station. They also go to institutes to present addiction prevention programmes, give anti-bullying advice to children and hold various exhibitions.
Police sources have criticised the negative impact the restructure of the service has had on a once pioneering unit and has made an example of how, prior to this, there was one less agent in the unit, but the afternoons were sufficiently covered so the dogs were not left alone for long periods of time.
The Department of Security and the Local Police Headquarters are aware of the situation, having received several complaints.