Cops kayak 760km to raise money for ex-service animals’ ‘retirement’ home
A group of policemen from western Poland have completed a 760km Kayak ride across the country to raise money for a shelter that looks after retired service dogs and horses.
Entitled ‘Operation Warta’, the initiative was organised by Camp Formoza to raise money and awareness of the activities of foundation ‘Zakątek Weteranów’ (Veteran’s Corner).
Jarosław Jakubowski from Camp Formoza, and the idea-giver behind the trip told Polsat News: “Some people are ill and people raise money and we came up with the idea that we would help servicemen, but those other ones.”
Set up in 2017 by a group of serving and former policemen from Greater Poland, the shelter looks after dogs and horses which have been retired from duty in various police and military units and are unable to be homed with their service handlers after leaving active service.
Located in Gierłatowo on the outskirts of Poznań, the shelter is the first and only shelter in Poland specifically dedicated to the care of former service animals and currently looks after seven horses and 10 dogs.
Starting out on the 11th of September from the village of Poraj in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship, the charity trip involved a group of seven servicemen, who kayaked their way down 760km of the 808km complete length of the Warta in two-person teams.
Camping in the wild on the way, and swapping every 4-5 days, they finished on the 26th of September in the village of Kostrzyn at the mouth of the Oder river.
No specific fundraising target was set for the ‘Operation Warta’, which was organised with a main aim of encouraging people to support the shelter by giving money along the route or visiting the shelter’s website and general crowdfunding page which has currently raised 37,000 PLN of its 50,000 PLN target.
On the crowdfunding page, Zakątek Weteranów asks people to help them build the shelter and help with the animal’s upkeep. They write: “We are building 15 new kennels and adapting a stables with 5 new boxes.
“Please help us, because these animals, after leaving their duty, don’t receive from the government, any equivalent for food and medical care, let’s remember that these animals, upon leaving service are either very old or very ill and bills for food and veterinary care can be overwhelming.
“Unfortunately the four-legged veterans, don’t have a pension and are unnecessary and unwanted.”
It is estimated that there are currently over 2,000 dogs and 60 horses serving in Poland, the majority of which serve with the police and 10 percent of which are retired from active service each year.
In a recent legal development, at the end of August, the Polish Sejm supported amendments to a draft law by the Senate regulating the status of former service animals and the law was signed by President Andrzej Duda on the 28th of August 2021.
The law, which is due to come into effect in December, will for the first time to ensure a pension for retired service dogs and horses which will guarantee them financial maintenance and veterinary care for life, with the animals’ current handlers having priority in taking on retired animals with animals entrusted to the care of charitable organisations if this is not possible.
Despite this, Grzegorz Chmielewski, director of Zakątek Weteranów told TFN: “Although this is a good step, it is unlikely that this law will be backdated to cover animals which have already been retired before the law comes into effect, so the animals we currently look after.”
At the end of August, after a two year process, the shelter achieved the status of a Public Benefit Organization (OPP), a charitable status which will allow it to receive 1% of income tax from individuals as an additional boost to its fundraising efforts.
To find out more about Zakątek Weteranów, visit http://zakatekweteranow.pl/w-obiektywie/