Pet owners must obey German laws: Officials worry about wrong treatment

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Recently the German-American Community Office and the Animal Protection Association Kaiserslautern received complaints about American citizens not treating their pets according to German law.
“The main mistake Americans make is to keep dogs in a crate all day long,” said Claudia Beavers from GACO. “Vigilant neighbors inform the Department of Public Order of this kind of animal abuse.”
Department of Public Order officials ask then the GACO staff to contact these American pet owners to let them know there is a German Animal Protection Law applicable for all animals kept as pets.
The law states people keeping, caring or having to care for an animal are not allowed to limit the animal’s opportunity for species-specific movement in a way that the animal suffers from pain, diseases or injuries.
A dog should not stay alone without being walked for more than five hours,” said Karla Hähnel from the Tierheim (animal shelter) in Kaiserslautern-Einsiedlerhof.
A dog being kept indoors needs proper exercise and should be taken out for walks several times a day. Recommended is at least one hour total per day. It is not allowed to chain up the dog within the apartment or keep it locked in a separate room.
“Ever since we found out that it’s a common thing for Americans to keep dogs in crates all day and that numerous people don’t want to take dogs back to the United States after their assignment over here, we don’t give them dogs from our shelter any longer,” said Mrs. Hähnel.
***image2***““Only if we can assure ourselves that people stay over here for a long time and the dog will be taken care of the proper way, we will give one to an American.”
The Tierheim has an animal protection inspector who checks on the animals they give away to Americans and Germans on a regular basis.
“Before buying a pet, people should consider the responsibility and the disadvantages of keeping an animal,” said Wilhem Klein, chairman of the Animal Protection Association Kaiserslautern. “What happens to the pet when the owner goes on leave or gets deployed?”
The animal protection law governs the cohabitation of people and pets. “An animal is a living being and it’s not there to kill boredom,” said Mr. Klein.
Some people also keep their dogs on balconies, in basement rooms and bathrooms. These are not the right places to keep a dog.
The Kaiserslautern Department of Order recently received a complaint where the dog owner kept his dog on the balcony in the sun during a hot weather period.
***image3***“In cases like that we are asking the police for help,” said Wolfgang Reidel from the animal association’s executive committee. “If a dog is at risk, police get with the official veterinarian and they both get the dog out of its miserable condition.” Violations of the law might result in a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine of up to 25,000 EUR.
“Many neighbors also call when the dogs which are alone all day won’t stop barking,” said Mrs. Beavers. “This is a noise protection concern.”
The Department of Public Order takes appropriate action here as well.
“We from the animal protection association just want to make sure dogs are kept in an acceptable environment with everything they need, because we love our pets,” said Mrs. Haehnel. “It breaks our heart if the vet drops off another dog in bad shape.”
Americans who feel they cannot take their pets back to the states for whatever reason, should come by the Tierheim before setting them out on the street. The pets are cared for until adopted. Healthy animals will not be put to sleep.
People who love dogs, but understand that they cannot keep them according to the law, can come to the Tierheim from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and walk a dog.
The Tierheim is located at Altes Forsthaus 11 in Kaiserslautern-Einsiedlerhof. For information in English, call 0631-350-3666.