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German constitutional court to rule on BSL import ban

AFTER SEVERAL months delay, campaigners against Breed Specific Legislation in Germany were told that the Constitutional Court of Germany will announce their decision in the court case initiated by the VDH. (German Kennel Club) against the import ban on four allegedly ‘dangerous’ breeds of dog under Germany’s draconian Kampfehund laws.

As reported by OUR DOGS last November, the hearing took place at the highest constitutional court, in Karlsruhe.

The lawsuit had been filed over the import ban on the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, together with any crosses of these breeds. The ban was imposed by the German Government in 2001 and it took two years for the court to finally hear the case, which campaigners claim was contrary to the German constitution, as well as EU law relating to the free passage of ‘goods’ throughout the EU.

The lawsuit was sponsored by the German Kennel Club (VDH), representing 87 plaintiffs, all breeders and owners of the various breeds in question based in Germany. Though the VDH has financed the majority of this case, it was also supported by nearly every dog breed club in Germany who donated $250 dollars apiece.

German anti-BSL campaigner Cathie Detmar told OUR DOGS: "This case was filed in the constitutional court, since the import ban affected our rights as consumers to import goods into Germany with the hopes of making money or selling what was imported. The court is only being asked to decide if our rights were violated. They could go farther and decide the entire ban was wrong and throw it out when they make their ruling. They may also decide that the law was incorrectly written and dismiss it until a new law can be written.

"Whether the court makes a positive or negative decision, it will not affect the lawsuit we have filed over a year ago over the breeding ban on these breeds. This was filed in the administrative court system and will be heard separately. However, a positive outcome in the Constitutional Court would certainly help us later this year with this second lawsuit."

Other high courts in Germany, such as Berlin and Brandenburg have already ruled that the German Government cannot ban a breed without scientific proof that the breed in question is dangerous and that many other factors are involved in a dog’s behaviour and temperament.