(Updated 20/03/01)

Lawyer sues woman for 'defamation of dogs'.

 

A LEADING city lawyer in Germany has instigated proceedings against a Hamburg librarian for her ‘inflammatory’ remarks against the owners of so-called ‘Fighting Dogs’ in a German newspaper.


Günter Stück who is the owner of an American Staffordshire Terrier has taken out an indictment in the Hamburg courts against Frau Barbara Duden.


Herr Stück’s action was lodged at the Hamburg Public Prosecutor’s Office on February 24, 2001.


The indictment reads: “I begin by requesting a public prosecutor’s investigation with the aim of lifting the immunity as well as the induction of criminal proceedings against: Frau Diplombiliothekarin Barbara Duden, citizen of Hamburg on account of... stirring up hatred...”


Herr Stück explains that he is 63 years old and a leading ‘supervisory judge’ in institutional law, holding the legal seal of the state of Hessen. He also explains that for four and a half years he has been the owner and handler of an American Staffordshire Terrier named Chico, who has been known for his friendliness. Herr Stück holds an expert’s certificate for ownership of the dog (classified as a ‘Fighting Dog’ under Hessen law), whilst Chico has passed his Mandatory temperament test.


The indictment continues: “Frau Duden, citizen of Hamburg made the following call on June 28, 2000, in the Bild Zeitung (newspaper), page 4 concerning the Fighting Dog Question... under the heading ‘Actung’: ‘New regulations are required. There is something the citizens can do too. Fighting dog owners need to get a collective warning. They must themselves learn that it in not ‘great’ and ‘in’ to own a fighting dog.’


Herr Stück says: “The deliberate use of the word ‘Achtung’ implies - as a look at a meanings or synonyms in the German language book shows- a disparaging, stigmatising, discriminatory and calculated effect. It is necessary to bear in mind that Frau Duden is well educated and because of her job, well read, and conscious of her choice of words.


“Her call (for action) fails to differentiate between the owners of so called “fighting dogs” - rendering the concept nonsensical - that they are all genetically and cynologically identical.


“So she talks to me, not only of the demand for collective action but, however, explains that I appear to have an inferiority complex or bats in the belfry. She must be made to understand that I am not prepared to put up with this.


“Frau Duden has, for some time now, clearly refused to apologise for her impudent outburst.”
Herr Stück continues, pointing out that whereas certain politicians had made inflammatory remarks about the need for harsh laws to control the ownership of ‘Fighting Dogs’, Frau Duden’s remarks called for a ‘social response’ by citizens against ‘Fighting Dog’ owners. The implication is clear, as many dog owners and their dogs were verbally abused in the streets, spat at and on several occasions, attacked by other citizens, largely as a response to media and political hype.


Herr Stück concludes: “I judge Frau Duden’s outburst as thus aimed at discriminating between people and that it was made without any restriction. That the word “Achtung” - with benevolent consideration - has a discriminatory and disparaging effect - and in common usage or context is so, is beyond dispute. It is my opinion, that to raise such a public demand, against people today, is monstrous.


“My family and I have personally experienced what it is, in the 21st century, to be “collectively acted against”, through our own dog and without having given the slightest cause. Or how should one describe it when one is spat at, harassed, insulted, gaped at, avoided, the dog kicked etc? This is how we are expected to “learn that it is not ‘great’ or ‘in’ to own a fighting dog”, according to the last sentence in the statement.”


The indictment is now awaiting a court hearing to determine whether or not Frau Duden is guilty of inciting violence against dog owners. If found guilty, she faces a possible custodial sentence and will almost certainly lose her job as a result.


The general consensus of opinion amongst anti-BSL campaigners world-wide to the news of Herr Stück’s action was one of encouragement. Leading campaigner Gabi Woiwode from Bavaria commented: “Here we have a dog owner who is prepared to use the law to protect dogs and other dog owners from the sort of abuse from other citizens which the newspapers are only too happy to print. It will be interesting to see the result of this case.”




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