Pet owners should be aware of local laws

Anyone who’s brought a pet overseas has already jumped through several hoops — making sure they’re microchipped and vaccinated, obtaining a health certificate and complying with airline regulations. But once here, there are still some things pet owners must take care of and some laws to be aware of.

Pet owners living on post or off must register their pets at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Clay Kaserne within two weeks of arriving in Germany, said Capt. Melissa Dugan, DVM, officer in charge at the VTF. Failure to register with the garrison could potentially result in hundreds of euros in overdue registration fees if caught. The good news is, it’s free to register pets with the garrison and it only needs to be done once at the duty station where the pet resides.

Pets must have been vaccinated for rabies at least 21 days before arriving in Germany, regardless of age, Dugan said. This applies to pets even from another country within the European Union. A pet purchased outside of Germany in the EU will need a pet passport with current rabies vaccine and microchip information. Airlines may have additional requirements.

The VTF is open to all DoD ID card holders, however, services are limited at this time. Personal pets are secondary to the military working dog mission. The VTF can administer vaccines and health certificates, but is not doing surgeries or boarding. The facility has a very limited number of openings for dental and sick call appointments, but the goal of these types of procedures is for the Veterinary Corps officers and military technicians to maintain their clinical proficiency.

The VTF provides an in-briefing for pet owners, which includes information on off-post veterinarians, boarding, grooming, obedience training and other services.
The clinic is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon and Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. They are closed federal holidays. Call (0611)143-546-0700 to make an appointment.

Know the rules in Germany

Some German laws that dog owners should be aware of:
1. The use of electrical devices for disciplinary purposes is not allowed.
2. A dog may only be kept in a crate a maximum of two hours per day.
3. Dogs up to 50 cm tall need a minimum of six square meters of floor space, 50 to 65 cm need eight and more than 65 cm need 10.
4. Tie outs must allow a dog to move at least six meters, five meters side-to-side, and be attached so that the dog may go to its dog house, lie down, turn around and move freely without risk of injury. Only wide harnesses or collars that do not tighten themselves can be used. Tie outs are prohibited for dogs that are younger than 12 months, ill or pregnant.
5. If a dog is kept outdoors, it must have a dog house made of thermally insulating material. The dog house must be big enough so the dog can turn around and lie comfortably and keep the shelter warm with its own body heat if there is no heating.
6. At least twice a day, a dog must have at least two hours of contact with its owner or care provider, such as play, walking or dog school.
7. Twice a day for one hour, dogs must have a chance to run freely, if kept in a kennel otherwise.
8. Dogs must be kept on a leash inside developed areas at all times. Outside developed areas, dogs must automatically be put on a leash if other people are approaching. Violating this rule may be punished by fines up to 5,000 euros.
9. Owners must dispose of pet waste properly.
10. During quiet hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m., dog owners must ensure neighbors are not disturbed by barking, whining or howling. Outside these hours, dog owners must ensure dog noises last no longer than 10 minutes in a row, or exceed 30 minutes cumulatively per day.
11. Pets are not allowed to run free. The owner may be held liable for any bodily injuries or property damage that the pet may cause. German law imposes strict liability on the owner for damages, regardless of whether the pet is in the possession of the owner. Therefore, it is recommended that pet owners obtain liability insurance.