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The Olpe animal shelter incident

"The images linked below were sent by the animal shelter in Olpe (between Cologne and Düsseldorf in Nordrhein-Westfalen) and the content of them is roughly as follows:

(Mrs.) Dr. Jahn, on behalf of the district administration of Cologne requests the mayors of Aachen, Bonn, Cologne, Leverkusen, the chief administrative officers of the districts of Aachen, Bergheim, Bergisch Gladbach, Düren, Euskirchen, Gummersbach, Siegburg as well as the public veterinary authority that the following procedure be applied with rgard to the "dogs that no not exhibit any aggressive behavior but as crosses or purebreds belong to any of the aggressive breeds listed in Category 1:

  • Euthanization of all dogs belonging to Category 1 in the animal shelters;
  • Euthanization of all dogs belonging to Category 1, which were abandoned or turned in;
  • Euthanization of all dogs belonging to Category 1, which were confiscated due to improper keeping of the dogs,
  • Euthanization after 35 days of all dogs belonging to Category 1, which were confiscated from unreliable owners in accordance with §7 of the State Regulation

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Update (July 22, 2000)

[ Translation ]

Debate about euthanization of figting dogs in Northrhine Westphalia

Duesseldorf (Reuters) - The State Government of Northrhine-Westphalia has stopped an order of the district administration of Cologne, according to which abandoned fighting dogs were to be euthanized after 35 days at the animal shelter. "This order is against animal protection law and is the wrong way to deal with fighting dogs", says Minister of the Environment, Baerbel Hoehn (Green Party) on Friday to Reuters in Duesseldorf. Only aggressive dogs or dogs with suffering may be euthanized. The cause of the debate is the dog regulation according to which since two weeks 42 dog breeds may only be kept as an exception. Most animal shelters are overcrowded, because many dogs are abandoned.

In a letter known to Reuters, the district government had requested its cities and communities to euthanize abandoned animals after a period of 35 days, as they could not be placed into new homes anymore. "The sensible reason derives from the public's wish to decrease the number of dogs, which is also the obvious aim of the State Dog law and further derives from the impossibility to provide proper keeping of these dogs in the animal shelter on a long term basis", says the letter. A spokesperson of the authority said that no mass killing was intended but that on an individual basis is would be sensible to put down fighting dogs.

Hoehn said about the letter that her Ministry intervened with the District Administration so that no dogs are allowed to be euthanized without a reason. It is not the aim of the dog regulation to kill animals but to protect people from fighting dogs. The State will help its communities within the next days, to set up new shelters for abandonded or turned in dogs.

For most communities the execution of the new dog regulation means a bureaucratic effort impossible to estimate. All dogs taller than 40 cm and heavier than 20 kg had to be put on the leash. The city of Cologne announced that it will ignore this part of the regulation, as the administrative authorities could not possibly measure and weigh every dog.

The German Association for the Protection of Animals criticized that the the letter of the District Administration was merely a try to push the responsibility for fighting dogs off on the animal shelters. President Wolfgang Apel said that the animal shelters were not the extended arm of the authorities in order to get rid of dangerous dogs. "Instead the authorities should try to achieve a more friendly relation with dogs, so that animal shelters could be able to find new owners for abandoned dogs again."