Dog owners in Germany are confused and outraged by a new law that dictates how and when they can walk their pets.
The law, which is designed to protect dogs from being shut inside all day, will require pet owners to go on two hour-long walks every single day.
When the law was announced, it was met with disbelief. How would the government possibly enforce such a law? How is it fair to pet owners who work all day and can’t add an extra two hours to their busy schedules?
Germany is home to the largest number of dogs in the EU, 10.1 million canines calling the country home. One in five households has at least one dog, so the new law will impact a large number of people.
The aim of the law is clearly to protect pets from being abused and neglected. “Pets are not cuddly toys, their needs must be taken into account,” Food and Agricultural Minister Julia Klöckner said.
The ordinance specifically requires that dogs are “permitted to exercise outside of a kennel at least twice a day for a total of at least one hour. This is to ensure that dogs are given sufficient exercise and contact with environmental stimuli.”
The ministry recommended that the dogs go on walks with their owners, but running around outside in a yard or park would also be acceptable.
While some German dog owners are worried about getting into trouble for failing to walk their dogs on time, a spokesman for the German dog breeders’ association VDH says the law is actually targeted at his industry.
Udo Kopernik, speaking to Der Speigel, claimed that these measures will ensure that breeders and dealers take animal welfare more seriously. The new rules also include a ban on keeping a dog chained as well as minimum care for puppies.
The law will go into effect next year. Already, vocal critics are calling for it to be struck down or changed to be more reasonable. Even within the government, some representatives are speaking out about the law.
MP Saskia Ludwig tweeted, “VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE: I will not be taking my Rhodesian Ridgeback for two rounds of walks in 32 degrees heat, rather we will jump in the river for a refreshing cool down instead.”
The individual German states would have to figure out how to enforce this law when—and if—it goes into effect.