Your list of things to do when starting your move to Germany may seem a neverending one and don’t forget, your trusty pet has needs too!
For sure you won’t want to leave them back home, after all, you’ve loved and cared for them for so long, so how are you going to take them with you? What’s necessary to do and when should you think about it?
Of course, Germany is a very welcoming place for pets, even if the red tape and paper work makes you think otherwise. For example, it’s commonplace to see a dog owner sat at a table in a restaurant with his best friend. It’s also not unusual to find dogs sat alongside their owners on trains. In fact the dog has his own ticket too. Simply ask at the ticket office before you travel, just to make sure. You will often see dog owners WITH their pets in the most unexpected places, compared with your habits back home. Some places however, do draw the line at dogs other than Guide dogs for the blind, and this will be made clear at the entrance to the place with a picture of a dog in a red circle with a line through it, similar to a no smoking sign. Examples of such places include bakeries, butchers, kindergartens, hospitals, some bars and restaurants etc.
There is also a requirement that your dog is not considered a dangerous animal and that if it should be a type of dog that is known to bite, kill or maim, then you will be required to keep your dog muzzled at all times in public places. This rule is not so clear at the moment as there have been several high-interest cases in courts recently and so changes to these rules will surely happen soon. One point to mention here, you as the owner are completely responsible for the actions of your pet and any damage or injury caused by the animal will come under your responsibility to rectify. This is why lots of dog owners take out a third-party accident insurance on their pet that covers things like breakages in shops, injuries caused by tripping someone up in the street etc etc. Contact an insurance broker for more information on this topic.
Your dog is not allowed to make, lets say, solid deposits in any public place unless there are bags/gloves provided for the owner to clean-up after them. Failure to do so can result in a huge fine and many local walking places now provide these bags at all entrances to the paths. Take a plastic bag or two with you whenever you take your dog out just to be sure that you’re prepared. Remember also that even clearing up after your pet is not a tolerated behaviour in childrens’ play areas as it is thought that bacteria from dog dirt can lead to infantile blindness. Keep your dog tied up outside of such play areas just to be sure.
If you are flying with your pet, you will often find that the pet has to be locked-away in a special travel carrying device so that no ‘harm’ can come to the pet or the passengers onboard. You may even be allowed access to your pet throughout the journey, be it at your seat or at a designated part of the plane. It’s unlikely that your pet will be stored in the hold of the jet as temperatures in these areas could mean that your pet arrives as a frozen version of it’s former self!
Before you travel.
There are of course rules and regulations concerning the import and export of animals to and from any country in the world and Germany is no exception. You must not forget to comply with these long before you start your journey as you may find that your pet could be taken away from you for a period of quarantine, which is never a good thing for either of you.
If you are travelling within the EU, you now need a pet passport which contain the list of vaccinations recieved as well as any tagging info that may exist under the animal’s skin. This is an EU scheme to ensure or lower the danger of rabies spreading within the EU member states.
Do your research early.
Remember that you will need several documents that have to be readable to the German immigration authorities and do not think that they will not be checked, as they most probably will be. You will be required to visit a vetinary surgeon at your starting place and ask him for a list of vaccinations required and already received. This list must include rabies vaccinations and it should also be in a typed format. You then must take this list to your local Germany authority, be it the German Embassy or Consulate, depending on your country, and ask them to make a certified translation of this list of vaccinations in German – possibly even with an apostile (An apostile is a certificate that proves that the first certificate is really a certificate !! – well, not quite as ridiculous as that sounds, it is simply a wax sealed certificate to say that the two papers attached are identical for all content except language – it is often required for other documents such as birth certificates or driving licenses.) It may be possible to get an international vetinary certificate nowadays that has the list of check-ups and vaccinations performed and received and is in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. One reader has told me of such a certificate that was issued by a vetinarian in Ireland some years ago.
If you are crossing International borders (and this includes flying from the UK to Switzerland for example), then you will need to prove that your pet has received all the required vaccinations within the month prior to your date of entry into the country and you need a document for each pet that you bring. This covers up to three pets and any more will require an Import license. Pets that require this type of attention include dogs AND cats. You should find that smaller house pets require no such attention and you certainly would not expect to provide certificates for hamsters or fish that you bring with you. You will not be allowed to bring birds, such as homing pigeons or parrots with you without prior written permission and a period of quarantine – due to current bird-flu restrictions. Snakes, ferrets and rats are not considered house pets, rather vermin and so you may face very hard times ahead when bringing these pets to Germany.
If you have brought a dog with you, as soon as you have got yourself settled into your new home you need to get yourself a dog license. Like in the UK and Ireland, this can cost up to 30 Euro’s a year but it also depends on which part of Germany you are living in. All other house pets do not require such a license. Simply make a point of enquiring about this license when you register yourself and your family at the einwohnermeldeamt.
Don’t forget that the person you rent a house or an apartment has the last say as to whether you may bring your pet or not, so make sure you check whether you may have pets/haustiere living with you. Many apartment owners say no to pets unless the owner is blind or partially sighted, due to reasons known only to themselves.
Bringing Dangerous Dogs into the country from the USA
In response to a series of dog attack upon humans, Germany’s state and federal governments have enacted measures to ensure public safety. The states bear primary responsibility in this area, and the regulations bearing upon the breeding and ownership of dangerous breeds vary from state to state. In some states, for example, dogs of certain breeds must be kept on leash and muzzled in public at all times. Travelers planning to bring their dogs with them to Germany are advised to contact the appropriate state authorities: a list of the breeds affected by state legislation is given below.
At the national level, the Bundestag has passed legislation banning the import of breeds deemed especially dangerous. The ban applies, notably, to Pitbull Terriers, Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Dangerous dogs accompanying travelers remaining in Germany for no more than four weeks are exempt, as are public service and guide dogs. Any dog owner wishing to bring an animal into Germany must have appropriate documentation. Travelers are advised to contact the nearest German Consulate General for further information.
Breeds Subject to Dangerous Dog Regulations
The breeds of dogs listed here are classified as generally or potentially dangerous under the regulations of one or more of Germany’s states. Other breeds not listed might also be subject to regulations. Dog owners interested in bringing their dogs with them to Germany are advised to contact state authorities for more information.
– American Staffordshire Terrier *
– Berger de Beauce (Beauceron)
– Berger de Brie (Briard)
– Bull-terrier *
– Cane Corso
– Chinesischer Kampfhund (Chinese fighting dog)
– Dogo Argentino
– Dogue de Bordeaux
– Fila Brasileiro
– Kaukasischer Owtscharka
– Kraski Ovcar
– Liptak (Goralenhund)
– Maremmaner Hirtenhund
– Mastin de los Pirineos
– Mastin Espanol
– Mastino Napoletano
– Mittelasiatischer Owtscharka
– Perro de Presa Canario
– Perro de Presa Mallorquin
– Pit-bull terrier*
– Polski Owczarek Podhalanski
– Raffeiro do Alentejo
– Rhodesian Ridgeback
– Römischer Kampfhund
– Slovensky Cuvac
– Staffordshire Bull-terrier*
– Sürdrussischer Owtscharka
– Tibetanischer Mastiff
– Tosa Inu
*These breeds are prohibited under all circumstances.
All dogs that reach a shoulder height of over 40 cm (approximately 16 inches) at full maturity or a weight of over 20 kg (44 pounds) are subject to dangerous dog regulations in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
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