Pets in Germany
European Regulation 998/2003 is in now in effect. It sets out the rules for pet animals travelling between European Union (EU) countries and into the EU from other countries. It also means your furry friend gets his/her own passport - now how cute is that?
For a while now you have been able to bring your pet (dog, cat and now ferrets!) into Germany using the Pets Travel Scheme, which means you dont have to worry about quarantine on your return to the UK. There are of course some things you must do first, the animal must be chipped and a rabies (Tollwut) vaccination is a must. Any domestic animals brought into Germany must be innoculated against rabies at least 30 days to 1 year maximum before entry.
Before you think this doesn't apply to you just remember there is rabies among the wild animal population on mainland Europe and there are signs in many of the forests in Germany warning you that a case of rabies has been detected. I haven't seen any foaming at the mouth (well not from any animals anyway) whilst I have been here, but it does make one think twice before petting that nice doggy you don't know.
Once you are here with your microchipped pets you can register them on TASSO (in German but click on International for some English stuff). This could help in tracing them if they get lost and you can also register them here if they do go missing.
If you want to get a pet whilst you are here there are lots of animal shelters (Tierheim) and animal welfare institutes (Tierschutzverein) where you can find a loving companion - I did!
Just like people all dogs have to be registered here and pay dog tax (Hundesteuer). The laws and costs in each of the 16 states (Länder) vary, so you must check locally.
General rules which apply to all dog-owners in Germany include:-
- Your dog must be microchipped and you must have valid insurance, including third party liability.
- There is dog tax here (amounts vary depending on where you live).
- Your dog must be registered where you live and have a registration tag with a unique i.d. number.
- Any person in charge of a dog on public or private land must ensure that the dog doesn't endanger any persons or property
- Dogs must be kept on a lead in parks and are not allowed in playgrounds or cemeteries.
Dogs must be kept on a short lead in city areas.
- It is the responsibility of the person in charge of a dog to ensure that the dog does not foul the pavement (except gutters) and public areas - scoop the poop!
- Dog owners must ensure that their dogs do not run loose or cause a disturbance by barking or howling.
- Dogs should not be let loose in open country and may be shot in certain circumstances, this is especially true in spring.
Along with dog tax, there is dangerous dogs legislation
There is hatred of dogs (hundehass) in Germany. Following the tragic death of a child, in July 2000 the German authorities passed laws on dog control which affects all dog owners coming to or living in Germany. The laws have banned outright certain breeds of dog, which may not be brought into Germany. These banned breeds are: Bull Terriers, Pitbull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Bull Terriers or crossbreeds from any of these named breeds. If you own one of these breeds and are coming here, you will not be able to bring your dog with you. If this affects you, and you have to leave your dog behind and cannot find someone to care for it, contact the RSPCA or PDSA (you will find their numbers in the phone book), and they will try to rehome your dog.
We may be a nation of dog lovers in the UK, but we are funny about showing it. Here in Germany you can take your dog into most shops, bars and restaurants without a raised eyebrow. It makes life a lot easier and more fun for the dog, but make sure they are well behaved and friendly.
I find that putting a red neckerchief round my dog's neck before we go into town works wonders.
I have had the unfortunate experience of having a cat go missing here and still don't know what happened to him.
Unfortunately there are regular reports of catnappers (Katzenfänger) and it is quite worrying. The general advice is don't let Felix out at night and make sure he/she has a collar with contact information on it.
If you live on a residential street the speed limit is likely to be 30km per hour or even less - it's lovely for Felix not to risk getting squashed every time he/she crosses the road.
The whole fun of moving away from the UK is to be on a continent. So use this time to get to know some of our other European friends.
You may, subject to certain requirements, take your pets with you when travelling to another Member State. The European Commission have confirmed that new regulations are being implemented from 3 July 2004. However, there is a transitional period when Member States may run their national rules and the new EU system concurrently until 30 September 2004. After that to travel freely around the EU your pet will require a pet passport, so speak to your vet now. Generally it involves taking your vet to the vet before travelling to ensure they are 'fit to travel'.
When you want to travel unencumbered you need to find somewhere or someone to look after them, away from your usual circle of animal loving friends this can be difficult, but there are lots of kennels (Hundepension / Hundehotel) and catteries (Katzenpension / Katzenhotel), in Germany - you'll also find them under (Tierpension). Of course there are good and bad ones. The best way to sort the wheat from the chaf is get recommendations from other pet owners (ask some of the other dog walkers you meet) or at least visit the premises and check them out personally, if your German is good enough have a trawl around forums in the area. Another possibilty is to hire a dog or cat sitter (Hundesitter / Katzensitter), most large cities have someone who's offering this service.
To do this, you will need a PETS certificate from a government authorised vet (bevollmaechtigter Tierartz), which requires your pet to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. Just remember first chip, then innoculate, then test - don't let anyone tell you any different!
Old PETS certificates (which only relate to dogs and cats) stay valid for entry to the UK until the date of their expiry. Nevertheless you should get an EU pet passport. In Germany pet passports are issued by an authorised vet (bevollmaechtigter Tierarzt).
As long as you keep the vaccinations up to date you just need to renew the passport every year. You also need to get your dog certificated as being fit to travel and having been treated for worms and ticks 24 - 48 hours prior to departure. I have now travelled both ways many times without a problem (knock on wood). However it is best not to travel with them too often as they require worming and ticking for every trip into the UK, so be sensible.
If your pets booster is even one day late - you have to start the whole process again. Believe me - I know!
I always use the Channel Tunnel as it is quick and it means that my lot (two dogs and a cat) can stay in the car with me, whereas on the ferries and on most flights they have to be in a crate and are left in the hold. On the ferries you can seemingly visit them once the ferry is underway, but even so I wouldn't fancy being in the dark like that.
For more information, visit the PETS website or call the PETS helpline in the UK on 0870 241 1710.