Berlin set to put all dogs on leads under new law

Pet owners will no longer be able to let their dogs roam free on the streets of Berlin, if city authorities have their way. A new law will force walkers to use a lead in public places.

Berlin set to put all dogs on leads under new law
Photo: Stefan Sauer/dpa

A public consultation, known as the Bello Dialogue, concluded on Wednesday when Berlin Senate’s portfolio holder for justice, Thomas Heilmann, announced that dog ownership laws in Berlin would be reformed.

At present dogs must only be kept on a lead in green spaces, public buildings, public transport and stairways, according to the Berliner Zeitung.

But if the new law is approved by the Senate it will come into effect next year.

The only remaining areas where the approximately 140,000 dogs in the city will be allowed to run free are the twelve dog-walking areas in Berlin’s forests and the dog zones in the city’s parks, the Berliner Zeitung reported.

But owners with a so-called “Dog Walking License” will not have to use a lead – this will include elderly dog-owners.

How the new rules will be controlled and enforced remains unclear, but the Bello Dialogue indicated that a licence would not cost more than €100.

According to Senator Heilmann it is important that new laws are introduced. “Just because there are people who won’t follow it, it doesn’t make sense not to introduce a rule,” he said.

Different rules for different cities

In Germany, rules on dog ownership vary from state to state and city to city. Hamburg has long asked dog-walkers to use a lead, while Munich made it compulsory to use a lead when walking large dogs in the city centre or in pedestrian zones.

Picking up dog mess is another area where rules vary. In Frankfurt owners are fined €75 for failing to clean up after their dog. In Berlin the fine is just €35.

But some want to introduce a nationwide dog law. “We have wanted that for a long time,” said Udo Kopernik, a spokesman for the German Kennel Club based in Dortmund. “It is regulated differently in every state.”

In Berlin, where many dog owners take their dog out without a lead, the new laws may prove unpopular if introduced. Heidi Springfeld, who lets her sheepdog Mascha walk free in Kreuzberg, said: “If dogs are taken out on a lead they become aggressive.”

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