“I don’t actually think that the animals are being treated worse, but more cases of negligence are discovered and the control system seems to work better,” said Björn Dahlén at the animal welfare unit of the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) to news agency TT.
In 2005, 124 Swedes were issued with a pet ban and last year that number had increased to 192. If the trend continues in 2011, over 200 people will loose their right to keep pets this year.
Maltreatment and negligence are only two of the many reasons why pet-owners loose their animals and are prohibited to acquire new ones.
The increasing problem caused Stockholm police to form a special animal protection unit three months ago.
“We started this group because we knew there was a need for it but we never realised that the problem would be this large,” said Håkan Andersson, who heads the group, to newspaper Borås Tidning.
At the moment the unit is ten strong, a number that will increase with another three officers this autumn.
“Most of the people we deal with are really not in any condition to keep animals at all, because of substance abuse or mental disorders, and when it goes as far as someone reporting them, the animals are usually in pretty bad shape,“ said Andersson.
County councils assumed control of animal protection checks in 2009. Last year 240 people were working with animal rights and over 12,000 inspections were carried out.
In 60 percent of the cases the inspection is carried out after a report of maltreatment has been received from the public, according to Björn Dahlén.