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by OUR DOGS Chief Reporter, NICK MAYS
24th November 2000

OWNERS OF listed 'Fighting Breeds' within the City State of Hamburg are facing a mass round up of their dogs within the next week if they are unregistered before the deadline of November 30th, according to anti-dog legislation campaigners in Germany.

It was in Hamburg that the horrific death of six year-old Volkan Kaja took place in June, when an American Pit Bull Terrier and an America Stafford owned by a known dog fighter attacked the boy as he played in a children's playground. The boy's death sparked a media outcry, which led to the hysterical attacks upon dogs and their owners by German citizens and the harsh - and unconstitutional - 'Fighting Dog' laws within the various States. Hamburg's Mayor Ortwin Runde has gone on record as saying that he wishes to see all Fighting Dogs eliminated from Hamburg. Just recently, the German-Jewish Vets Association has sent a strong protest against the Hamburg Dogs Act to Mayor Runde in an open letter. In the opinion of the Association the Act is a "big crime" and runs contrary to the "rule of truthfulness in our society" The Mayor has not answered to date.

Anti-dog law campaigner Gabi Woiwode told OUR DOGS: "The situation in Hamburg is most alarming. Not only those dogs that were not registered, but still are in Hamburg are in acute danger. EVERY dog listed practically is. "To keep dogs of the List 1 of 'Fighting' Breeds, you have to be granted "special interest" - no matter how many temperament tests your dogs passed. And Hamburg has already decided to NOT grant 'special interest' to anybody. "In practical terms, this means that all list 1 dogs will be illegal and will lead to what Hamburg always wanted to do - get Hamburg free of "fighting dogs".

Woiwode continues: "The deadline for the Hamburg dogs is 28th November exactly. Worse than lambs to the slaughter, I would say. The dogs will be taken to the special harbour 'camp' where the 'Fighting Dogs' are held. After a certain time they "have" to kill them, because they cannot be found new homes. And they are not found new homes, because no one in Hamburg is allowed to own such dogs. "Hamburg really threatens to become a slaughter house, and thanks to methods that are somehow familiar..."

OUR DOGS spoke to Herr Stefan Marks, the press spokesman for the Hamburg Health and Social Affairs Dept. Herr marks denied that there was to be any mass round up of dogs and certainly no mass extermination of 'unregistered' dogs which "might" be seized. "By November 30th, every owner of a dangerous dog must report their dog's existence to the authorities," said Herr Marks. "So far we have had 280 reported by their owners, and we expect 500. If they are registered correctly, there is no justification for their seizure." Asked whether it was true that mayor Runde had instructed the authorities to refuse 'special interest' licences to all such dogs' owners, Herr Marks denied this. "No, not at all. Mayor Runde has said that, over a long period of time, he ants Hamburg to free of fighting dogs, but dogs that are already here are not to be killed. The innocent dog owners have nothing to fear." Herr Marks outlined the registration procedure, which has grim echoes of the UK's own Dangerous Dogs Act (which also had a deadline of November 30th, in 1991).

"If dogs are not registered by the deadline, people will be prosecuted. We have a Task Force to seek these dogs out, the police are also involved, and certain citizens may also report people whom they suspect of owning a dangerous dog. All such allegations will be investigated. However, the dogs will NOT be taken from their owners, the owners have a perfect right to appeal through the courts. However, if the court says that the officers acted correctly and that the dog is a dangerous dog, then the dog will be taken away and a prosecution will follow."

Asked whether a 'Fighting Dog' could be registered at any point during this process, or after the court had ruled the authorities to be acting correctly, Herr Marks replied; "No. There is no provision for this. The dogs have to be registered by November 30th at the latest, or the owners must at least have begun the registration protest."

In 1991, the UK Government also disallowed any provision for "out of time" registration of dogs whose only crime was to be of the pit bull 'type'. This legislation remained in place causing the deaths of hundreds of family pets until the DDA was amended in 1997 to allow "out of time" registrations. It looks likely that Hamburg is now to follow suit.

Copyright Nick Mays/OUR DOGS 2000