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(Updated 7/9/01)

German Dog Law Update:
'Mixed Blessings' after German court ruling

A COURT ruling made last week in Hessen, Germany was greeted with mixed feelings by campaigners against the harsh 'Fighting Dog' laws which have been in force for over a year now in various German states.

The Hessian Administrative Court came to a decision regarding the strict rules and regulations governing dog ownership in Hessen. This decision was awaited eagerly as all dog owners thought it would be a "signal" for other administrative courts throughout the country, regarding other regional dog laws.

The court ruled that there should be no distinction between "The Irrefutable Supposition of Dangerousness" of the breeds listed as 'Dangerous' under Group 1 (American Pit Bull, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier) and "The Principal Dangerousness" of breeds listed under Group 2 (American Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Bull Terrier, Dogue de Bordeaux, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Kangal, Kuakasian Owtcharka, Mastiff, Mastin Espanol, Mastino Napoletano and Tosa Inu).

The court also ruled that the law prohibiting the sale of dogs listed under the former Group 1 should now be rescinded.

However, the court also found that the "dangerousness of a breed" and the "listing of breeds" was acceptable and that the dangerousness of a dog can be tied to a breed, the very underpinning of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).

Mixed blessing

Campaigner Rita Brenner, the owner of a Bullmastiff named Rosie told OUR DOGS: "I have to say that this ruling is a very mixed blessing. This means that we now have one group of "dangerous dogs" only in Hessen. However, the character or non aggression test is still in force but nobody knows at the moment if our dogs have to go through with this every two years or if once in their lives is enough."

The court also said that this decision could be revised by a further hearing at the Federal Administrative Court.

In an Interview for local TV, the Hessian Minister of the Interior Volker Bouffier stated that the court decision was "a great success for his ministry".

"Quite apart from a very big disappointment in this court decision we, the owners of the 15 listed breeds, feel absolutely let down. We had such high hopes, but it seems we have to struggle on." Said Rita Brenner. " I am so extremely sorry that the news is not better this time but be assured that Rosie and I will fight on, we cannot give up now!

" Thank you, all of you, for the help and support you have given to German dog owners, this is highly appreciated."