‘Pug of war’ over dog seized by German city and put on eBay

A decision by German authorities in Ahlen to impound a pug from an indebted family and hawk it on eBay was spiralling on Monday into a possible case for the courts.

'Pug of war' over dog seized by German city and put on eBay
A pug similar to Edda. Photo: DPA

The buyer, Michaela Jordan, told national news agency DPA she had filed a case against Ahlen city authorities for “fraud”.

The pug – which goes by the full name of Edda von Kappenberger See – was seized late last year by local officials in Ahlen, a city of slightly over 50,000 residents in North Rhine-Westphalia, from a family which had been unable to pay their debts to the city authorities.

SEE ALSO: Dog tax delinquency leads to lawsuit in small town near Münster

A city employee put Edda on eBay using a private account and sold her for €690, with the proceeds going to city coffers.

In the advert, the pug was described as healthy, vaccinated and dewormed, but the buyer said the animal suffers from multiple problems including an eye injury that would require an operation.

“It was all lies,” she said, adding that her lawyer had filed the lawsuit against city authorities on Thursday last week.

The unusual case has gripped pet-loving Germany.

SEE ALSO: 'A life without a dog is a mistake': Germany's passion for pooches

Over the weekend, a spokeswoman from North Rhine-Westphalia state's interior ministry said that while animals can be seized to pay off their owners' debts, house pets are essentially exempt.

She also noted that impounded items should be publicly auctioned and not simply sold on eBay through a private account.

Amid the howls of outrage, Ahlen city authorities said on their website that they were ready to reverse the sale “if the parties involved are in agreement”.

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Germany collects record amount of ‘dog tax’ as passion for pups spikes amid pandemic

Germans are adopting more dogs amid the coronavirus crisis - meaning that the country has taken in a record amount of taxes for them.

Germany collects record amount of 'dog tax' as passion for pups spikes amid pandemic
Photo: DPA

The Germans’ love of dogs is providing local authorities with high tax revenues even in the crisis. In 2020, the income from dog tax rose to a record value of 380.2 million, according to new figures from the Federal Statistical Office released in response to a question from Welt am Sonntag. 

That marks an increase of almost three percent compared to the previous year, when all owners together paid 370 million in taxes for their dogs. 

All dogs in Germany are subject to the Hundesteuer or ‘dog tax’, an annual fee which differs from state to state and is usually collected from dog owners.

READ ALSO: Prostitution, dogs and loneliness: A look at Germany’s weirdest taxes

But the German’s love of four-legged friends has not just grown amid the pandemic, when more people began working from home and looked for a source of companionship. Since reunification, the revenue from the tax has tripled; in 1991, it yielded just 123 million.

The Hundesteuer is thus one of the few types of tax that brought in more money despite the coronavirus pandemic. Although the increase of only three percent raises the question of whether every dog is actually reported to the tax office. 

According to the German Canine Association (VDH), 20 percent more dogs were bought by Bundesrepublik residents in 2020 compared to previous years, reported Spiegel in January. 

READ ALSO: Furry friends help Germans ease pandemic blues

Yet the amount collected in taxes depends on how many pups a person already owns. In many states, the amount of tax to be paid per dog increases with the number of dogs in the household. 

In Berlin, for example, the first dog costs 120 per year with each additional dog costing 180 per year. 

In Düsseldorf, the tax for one dog in the household is 96, and raises to 150 for two.

Have you also adopted a dog during the coronavirus crisis? Let us know in the comments.