CAMPAIGNERS AGAINST Germanys draconian Fighting Dog laws were celebrating a long-overdue victory last week after a top German court ruled that One States list of dangerous breeds was illegal.
On Wednesday July 6th, the Senate of the Supreme Administration court in Berlin decided to cancel the directive of the state Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) along with its list of dangerous dog breeds. (Just a few weeks previously, another court ruled in favour of the breed list set by the State of Brandenburg).
The Berlin judges said that the content of the directive goes to far for a directive which is made by a single minister. The law infringes too deeply on the individual rights of the people. Such a law may only be passed by a State Parliament.
The breed list was not the only point the judges criticised. For the first time since the breed lists in Germany has been come to force two years ago, it was stated that there is NO scientific evidence that any one dog breed is more dangerous than another. The judges backed the breed experts and scientists findings that it requires several components which make a dog dangerous.
German anti-BSL campaigner Cathie Dettmar spelt out the upshot of the ruling. She told OUR DOGS:
The ENTIRE dog law was thrown out. This means no more breed list, no more sterilisation, muzzles and short leashes!!!
This ruling has been made by the same court we are taking the case for the Bull Terrier breed to, to remove the breed from the national Federal German dangerous breed list.
This ruling has sent a message to the other 15 states in Germany that their dog laws may also not hold
Canine behaviourist Dorit Feddersen-Petersen from Kiel found during tests on 219 dogs of the breeds American Stafford, Bull terrier, and pit bull type and related crosses, which had all been classed as dangerous, there was only one dog of abnormal behaviour, the character of nearly all other animals tested came out as excellent to good.
Hundreds of tests run at the Veterinary College, Hanover showed without doubt that these breeds do not pose a major threat, according to the Chairman of the Institute for Animal Protection and Behaviour, Hansjoachim Hackbarth. Far more problems are caused by animals which are not classed as fighting dogs, such as Dobermanns and Rottweilers. Hackbarths conclusion from his test is that instead of setting up general breed bans there should be a genetic selection process, whereby dogs which are used as studs or for breeding should generally have a character test carried out to prove that they are not inherently aggressive.
Buckley of the Kennel Club commented on the courts decision:
The Kennel Club is delighted to learn of the positive
news from Germany that the Lower Saxony Court have ruled that
the draconian canine legislation is null and void
within that Lander. German citizens now feel that it will
be far easier to convince judges that are dealing with this
issue on a Federal level that the legislation is clearly flawed
and should be disbanded, and they feel very positive about
their campaign. Cathie Dettmar and all of her campaigners
in Germany obviously have full Kennel Club support on this
We are also aware that Dr Brian Hill, a Bull Terrier enthusiast resident in the UK, has contacted the European Commission saying that the German Legislation breaches the Principle of mutual recognition under the Single European Act, and Dr Hills demand that his complaint be referred to the European Court of Justice has been registered by the Commission. Whilst this is obviously no guarantee that the matter will be pursued, Dr Hill feels that the Commission has accepted that there is a case to answer. We will continue to monitor developments in Germany with interest, whilst assisting where we can.