German animal shelters are full as dogs are returned after the lockdown

Two white fluffy dogs behind bars at an animal shelter in Germany look into the camera
Dogs at an animal shelter in Reichelsheim, Germany, photo: Reuters/Annkathrin Weiss

Animal shelters in Germany increasingly struggle to deal with all the dogs who are being returned as pandemic restrictions are being eased.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany, many people wanted a dog. But for many pet owners, the responsibility now seems too great, and they are trying to get rid of them.

“These are families who had a lot of time, who were at home, there were many children whose dream to own a dog became true, and they got a dog from somewhere,” Ute Heberer, who runs an animal shelter in Reichelsheim in Germany, told Reuters.

Heberer said that many dogs were bought online and sometimes illegally imported with “many sick animals, and there were also dogs with behavioural problems due to the way they were raised”.

“And then all the dog schools were closed. That means the families couldn’t get any help when they needed it,” she added.

“All these online purchases have to be controlled,” Heberer said, adding that “there needs to be a licence for people to at least know the basics.”

At the moment, Heberer’s animal shelter is reaching its limits, especially when it comes to taking in difficult dogs.

The chances of finding a new home for the dogs at Heberer’s shelter are not good. For those with behavioural disorders, that chance is close to zero.

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