Pet ownership comes with responsibilities

Story by Kevin S. Abel

If you are considering taking a dog, cat or any other pet into your life, think seriously about the responsibility and commitment that owning a pet entails, it’s not just a privilege to be enjoyed for a short period of time.

Recognize and be prepared to commit to a lifelong relationship with your pet. “Choose a pet that fits your life style appropriately,” said Jessie Bryant, veterinarian, Stuttgart Veterinary Treatment Facility. “Think about your future, they could be with you after your kids leave for college.”

Bringing pets to Germany and the installation requires pets be current on their vaccinations, and be microchipped with a German ISO compatible 15-digit chip. Upon arrival you are required to get your pets registered at the Stuttgart Veterinary Treatment Facility.

The microchip allows your pet to be identified if it becomes lost. This chip can also be registered though a website called Tasso. Tasso is a central registration hub for all pets in Germany and is completely free to register your pet. The Tasso foundation is run by donations so be kind when it comes to donating, because they will help find your lost pet. Their website to sign up in English is www.tasso.net.

Owners have the responsibility for their pet’s health. Bryant recommends that you have a checkup once a year to maintain your animal’s health and provide the necessary preventative care including vaccinations, parasite control and dental care. Some vaccinations needed are given annually, while some are given every three years.

Restrictions and responsibilities

In addition to the vaccination and microchip requirements, residents on the installations may own no more than two dogs or cats, in any combination, per household.

Other domestic pets, including birds, goldfish, and hamsters, may be kept in family housing, however exotic pets, like snakes, are prohibited. Breeds that are not allowed to be imported into Germany may not be kept in Army Family Housing (AFH).

Building Coordinators may designate pet walk areas that building residents who are pet owners will be responsible for maintaining. Dogs and cats must not be allowed to relieve themselves on balconies, playgrounds, or within 50 feet of family housing buildings. Pet owners are required to immediately clean up excrement from their pets and dispose of it properly.

Repeat offenders may face harsh disciplinary action that could include loss of pet privileges, removal from Army Family Housing at the occupants expense or UCMJ action(s) deemed appropriate by the Garrison Commander.

A health and welfare inspection may be conducted on any AFH unit alleged by complaint to be substandard in cleanliness, smell, or where a pet has apparently been abandoned.

Pets must not be left unattended in quarters for more than 12 hours. During these times arrangements must be made for the care of pets to ensure they have adequate food, water and walks so it can relieve itself.

At no time are pets allowed to be on balconies unattended, housed or locked in basements or storerooms, kept in fenced playgrounds, or tied to stair railings, radiators, pipes, shrubbery, or trees. Breeding pets and the construction and maintenance of kennel type operations are prohibited in Government controlled housing.

Pet owners residing in AFH are subject to host nation (HN) laws governing the treatment of pets. HN law and Army in Europe policy prohibit inhumane and abusive treatment of animals. Inhumane and abusive treatment is defined as any act or omission whereby an animal’s physical or psychological wellbeing is compromised unnecessarily.

Sponsors and their spouses are responsible to ensure that pets are controlled so they do not become a public nuisance or menace.

“Pets must be kept under control at all times and kept on a leash when outside,” said Ricky Hernandez, USAG Stuttgart Military Housing. “They are not permitted in playgrounds or sports fields at anytime.” Hernandez said that these regulations were put in place to protect both animals and residents on the installation.

Consequence

If a pet bites, scratches or becomes aggressive to a human, it should be reported to the military police. Complaints of improper control of pets and incidents where pets bite, scratch or become aggressive will be investigated and when appropriate, reported to the garrison commander for action.

The offending animal is subject to a physical examination, quarantine and possible removal from AFH, regardless of the absence of prior incidents.

Owners who abandon their pets are subject to action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or HN law and are responsible for all costs incurred by the Government on the transfer, care, custody, and final disposition of the animal.

Pet ownership is not something to be entered into lightly. Owning a pet is a long-term emotional, financial and time commitment. Decide if it is right for you by making an honest assessment as to whether your home and family are ready.

 

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