Updated on August 24, 2020, 9:22 am
The Ministry of Agriculture is planning a new law for dog owners. It is intended to guarantee dogs sufficient exercise and care in the future and to enact stricter rules for animal transports and dog breeders. The German Animal Welfare Association welcomes the idea – but there are also questions.
Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner (CDU) has a heart for animals. Above all dogs have done it to her at the moment. On Monday, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture announced that it wanted to pass a new draft law on keeping dogs. Among other things, the regulation is intended to oblige masters in the future to allow their animals to exercise at least twice a day for at least one hour.
A Gassigeh Law for Dogs? Not quite, says Kathrin Umlauf, pet advisor at the German Animal Welfare Association.
« The regulation is not an all-round carefree dog protection package, but it is a step in the right direction. In addition, it does not refer to walking for the dog, but to the exercise twice a day for at least an hour. » That could also be the outlet in your own garden. This requirement should not be a problem for dog owners. « The spout itself was already recorded, expressed only in a very vague way (with « sufficient », note d. Red.). By making it more specific, the veterinary office can take better action in animal welfare cases, « says Umlauf.
Deal with the attitude before buying a dog
It is not new that politicians keep dealing with keeping pets. Many dog owners are blinded by the illusion of the eternal, sweet puppy – and months later are hopelessly overwhelmed. A kind of « driver’s license » and control for dog owners could prevent that.
Umlauf also knows: « Experience shows that a large part of the animal welfare problems that arise when dealing with dogs result from a lack of expertise in rearing and keeping. » If it were up to her, every owner should have the necessary knowledge and skills (§ 2 Animal Welfare Act, note d. Red.) have to provide evidence in the form of a proficiency test. She adds: « We would like that for every pet, not just for dogs. Owners are often overwhelmed because they haven’t informed themselves well beforehand. In the end, the animal is then handed over to an animal shelter. Expertise can prevent this. «
Auslauf-Gesetz a step in the right direction
From the point of view of the German Animal Welfare Association, Klöckner’s draft law is a step in the right direction. Above all, the specification of the exercise requirements, the requirements for group housing as well as the keeping when breeding dogs and keeping herd guard dogs is an important contribution to animal welfare-compliant housing. In addition, the regulation makes checking the attitude easier. « We also expressly support the prohibition of tethering dogs and the exhibition prohibition for dogs whose body parts or organs have been amputated, or for dogs that have tortured breeding traits, » says the Tierschutzbund speaker.
Draft law a problem for seniors and older dogs?
Exercise twice a day – sounds easy. And yet this week the first critics of the bill came forward. Seniors in particular could be the big losers from the regulation. Because older people who love their dogs and need against loneliness could no longer go for such long walks and thus fall into the grid of a bad dog owner. Umlauf from the German Animal Welfare Association gives the all-clear: « The draft speaks of ‘outdoor exercise outside of a kennel’ and that contact with the person who keeps, looks after or has to look after the dog is to be allowed several times a day be feasible for older people. «
The design also takes into account the health of the dog. A dog that can no longer travel long distances does not have to be forced to do so. « If older people have a very young dog with a great urge to move around, they should ensure that someone else does his laps with the dog. »
However, that is probably rarely the case or it was discussed in advance how the care of the dog is divided up within a family. According to Umlauf, very young dogs in older people who are not fit may not be optimally cared for in the long term.
Before buying an animal, mistress and master should be aware of what is necessary for species-appropriate keeping. According to the Animal Welfare Association, this includes an appropriate exercise area, where the dog not only fulfills its need for exercise, but also gathers new impressions and can meet fellow dogs. « Owners who are not able to provide their animal with sufficient exercise and activity should not buy a dog, » warns Umlauf.
Verification becomes a challenge
A check of all dog owners in Germany will not be possible despite the law. However, the German Animal Welfare Association assumes that the requirements are not a problem for most dog owners, since they give the dog more space than prescribed anyway. « It is mainly about animal welfare cases such as pure kennel keeping without any space, raising puppies only in the apartment or in the basement, » says Umlauf. « Should there be a control here, the responsible authorities now have a basis on which they can make decisions for the welfare of the animal. Especially in the area of kennel keeping. »
The dog bill is good – but it also needs to be improved
The German Animal Welfare Association welcomes the fact that Klöckner is committed to dogs. The draft law will be discussed in the Bundestag in the coming weeks and months. Trade associations should also be included in the discussion of the federal states. The German Animal Welfare Association also had ideas for improvement to strengthen dog rights.
« What has not yet been included in the Animal Welfare Dog Ordinance is, for example, an identification and registration requirement for dogs. » However, this would help to determine the owner of a runaway dog and to be able to reunite him with his darling quickly. In addition, the illegal puppy trade could be curbed by a Europe-wide obligation if it can be determined exactly where a dog was born and has since been in care.
Other topics that should also be on the agenda according to the Animal Welfare Association: « Proof of competence before buying a dog to prevent spontaneous purchases and more detailed information on the upbringing and training of dogs. »
About the expert: Dr. Kathrin Umlauf is an expert in keeping dogs. She works as a consultant for pets at the German Animal Welfare Association and knows what makes a species-appropriate dog keeping and what is important in the draft law.
- Conversation with Dr. Kathrin Umlauf from the German Animal Welfare Association
- Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture: Press release on the amendment to the Animal Protection Dog Ordinance
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