(Updated 24/8/01)

Lone Briton fights against Germany's repressive laws

A BRITISH dog owner has made a concerted stand against the repressive ‘fighting dog’ laws in Germany by a concerted letter writing campaign in an attempt to secure some hard and fast answers, as well as getting an EU ruling on the legality - or illegality - of the German Federal Government’s laws.

David Howe, from Corby, Northants, is the owner of two Staffordshire Bull Terriers - a breed which appears on every German State’s list of so-called ‘fighting breeds’ and one of four breeds banned earlier this year by the German Federal Government.

Mr Howe, who has been assisted in his campaign by Phil Buckley and Caroline Kisko of the Kennel Club explained that his concerns started in March this year when his wife, a nurse, received a post working for SAFA in Lower Saxony, Germany. Mr Howe was to accompany his wife to Germany where they would set up home. There was never a question that they should not bring their dogs with them.

“As a responsible dog owner, I enquired through various agencies as to the position regarding my dogs,” says Mr Howe. “I telephoned the German embassy in London and was told everything was fine, I just needed an anti-rabies vaccinations for the dogs, together with a blood test and microchip. MAFF told me the same story and this I duly arranged.”

Mr Howe put his house on the market prior to the planned move to Germany, but he then heard, from various sources, that certain areas in Germany would not accept his dogs as they were classified as ‘fighting dogs’ and, therefore, dangerous.

“It took me a long time to discover that Lower Saxony would not take them,” adds Mr Howe, “yet no-one seemed able to help me and give me a final answer to the problem.”

Mrs Howe eventually departed for Germany on June 12th to take up her post, whilst Mr Howe and the dogs remained behind. Eventually, he had to take the house off the market and pull out of a planned sale because of the deadlock.

No option

“I am now in an impossible situation,” adds Mr Howe. “I have had my dogs since the age of five weeks. They are my babies, and I know that some people say I am mad and should get rid of them, but this isn’t an option.

“This situation, in my opinion, is politically motivated - it has nothing to do with dogs. Would the German people tolerate the German Shepherd Dog being banned and put down? No, of course not, even though the breed accounts for 42 per cent of attacks on people.

“The whole situation is farcical to say the least, and does not represent the will of the German people, as I have found through the campaigners against these laws on the Internet.

“If my dogs are muzzled and leashed, then I cannot see a problem. Why should they be banned? If we are part of Europe, as we are led to believe, how can this situation arise?”

Mr Howe contacted the Kennel Club who advised him to write to David Byrne, the European Commissioner in Brussels to outline his complaint. Mr Byrne has been pro-active in trying to establish whether the German Government’s laws are illegal, and has, for many months, been seeking proof from the Federal Government that their breed bans has a scientific basis. If they cannot prove this, then their ban on the breeds entering Germany is in direct contravention of EU law regarding freedom of movement.

Mr Howe has also written to his MP Phil Hope and his MEPs Philip Whitehead and Mel Read on the issue. The Kennel Club has, with Mr Howe’s permission, copied all correspondence to Theresa Villiers MEP, who has also taken a keen interest in the German dog laws since their introduction. Copies of all correspondence on the matter have been circulated to the dog press to bring Mr Howe’s case top wider attention.

Phil Buckley, KC Press Officer commented: “I am sure we cam all sympathise with Mr Howe’s upsetting predicament. Hopefully Mr Howe will receive a response from David Byrne soon and a ruling will eventually be made at EU level on the situation.”

OUR DOGS will continue to report any developments in this case.



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