OMG Pwnies!

14 Jul

In my last post I promised I’d write about ponies.  Turns out I’ll be writing more about animals in general but that doesn’t mean that you can’t go out and get the t-shirt.

In the states it’s fairly typical, and required by most foster groups and shelters, that animals be altered.  That’s just a nice way of saying that the baby-making is shut down.  This is to stop overpopulation and it’s fairly uncontroversial.  In fact, lately I’ve seen billboards for this group called the Kindest Cut.  They provide neutering and spaying for those who cannot afford this for their pet.

Higgins sez "I'm packed and I'm ready. Let's roll."

Europeans believe that altering an animal doesn’t solve overpopulation.  They believe that our issues with puppy mills and other questionable breeding methods are to blame.  It’s not common for an animal to be altered in Europe.  Some countries even have laws against these procedures unless it is medically necessary for the pet’s health.  I’m not currently far enough along in researching this topic to say who is right here but it’s always good to know that these things we take for granted as being right might not be.  At least not in other’s eyes.

When I was reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson he quoted Ambassador Dodd as mentioning that he had never seen happier dogs or horses before.  That Germans took exceptionally good care of their animals, especially as the treatment of humans decreased.

I’m not surprised that this was his take on Germany.  As I’ve been looking into this I’ve found that German have many laws on the treatment of animals that might surprise Americans.  Their dogs must not be left alone for more than 5 hours at a time.  They must be walked several times a day and they cannot be chained up within the home or put in a crate.  Germans disapprove of keeping dogs in bathroom, balconies or basements.  And neighbors will report any issues they see both to a vet and the police.

Most countries have standards for the number of pets allowed per household with the general being two.  Though many go over this limit they do this knowing that it can lead to eviction.  Also in most EU countries declawing of cats and docking of tails and ears of dogs is considered animal cruelty.  All countries in the EU have laws against animal cruelty except Spain, what with bull fights and all.  Spain (along with the UK and Germany) does have dangerous dog laws.  Certain breeds, mostly of the bull terrier breed,  are not allowed or they are restricted.  Spain’s doesn’t care so much about the breed but if the dog weighs in at more than 44 pounds, has a square head, strong muscular jaws and a strong back he won’t be allowed.

It’s not all roses for European pets.  In Spain, for example, dogs are often kept as security alarms since most alarms are ignored.  As a result some neighbors have taken to poisoning these dogs to get their peace and quiet.  In Turkey stray cats are often poisoned instead of taken to a shelter.

Assuming that you’re not the poisoning type and you would like to take your pet on your trip there’s a bunch to know.  Entrance into the EU requires a pet passport / an ISO microchip.  Sometimes the passport must be issued by the local vet for the foreign buddy.  There are countries that require as much as six months of preparation prior to travel of your pet. 

I wasn’t pleased to learn that most Europeans are hesitant or simply refuse to adopt or sell an animal to an American.  Why?  Our reputation as a country is one of people who abandon, mistreat or are somewhat irresponsible.  Now that’s the generalized opinion and of course I don’t agree with it one bit.  However, this is something to be aware of when traveling overseas.  I personally plan on taking pictures of Henry (cockapoo/toy poodle), Higgins (domestic long hair cat) and Oona (domestic short hair cat) with me.  Before I was thinking that would be a good conversation starter but now I think that it wouldn’t hurt to be a bit of an ambassador, however minimal or nonexistent my impact will be.  It’s not as if you have to twist my arm to get me talking about the fluffy ones anyway.   And it would seem that 2010 was the first time Europeans outspent the US in pet supplies.  Perhaps they will understand why our pals need new toys… again.

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