May 18, 2024

Vanessa Vogel of Ammerricht and her 12-year-old male Rottweiler bonsai.

Image: Stefan Huber

Bonsai does not give the impression that it can attack anyone. He is a quiet man who has been diagnosed with cancer since he was 12 years old. Best of all, Rottweilers took a personality test at an early age and passed it. In his 12 years of life, he had never behaved abnormally. Nevertheless, owning this dog is expensive, as the city of Amberg has increased taxes on listed dogs. As a Rottweiler, Bonsai is one of the dogs registered in Bavaria’s list. Listed dogs (also known as fighting dogs) are considered dangerous or potentially dangerous by law. In October 2023, Amburg City Council decided to tax listed dogs at 10 times the tax rate for other dogs. Now, in March, Vanessa Vogel received the corresponding notice: instead of 50 euros, bonsai owners will now have to pay 500 euros a year.

Background: The city of Amberg has adapted its laws to the Bavarian model ordinance. These have been around for a long time. He says there should be more taxes on dog fighting. “We took over here in 2023,” says Amburg Mayor Michael Cerny. “The purpose of the model ordinance is to reduce the number of dogs that are considered more dangerous.”

signatures collected

Amburg resident Vanessa Vogel, 39, doesn’t understand this logic. That’s why she’s taking action on that decision. Last October, dog owners went out to collect signatures against the tax increase. She went from house to house and left a list at the veterinary clinic. “My hope was that the city would reconsider, rescind or reduce the amount.” She considers the €500 dog tax “heavy”. Within four weeks, 860 signatures had been collected nationwide. Vanessa Vogel submitted the list to Mayor Amburg. “It was hidden behind the Bavarian Model Law,” Vogel says. However, local governments are not required to adopt these ordinances. In Gibbach (Amberg-Sulzbach district) every dog ​​owner pays 20 euros for each dog he owns. In some communities in Bavaria, owning a dog is free. For example, Hohenfels in the Neumarkt area is completely exempt from dog tax.

According to Cerny, the reason lies in the individual structure of these communities. For example, if you have a small number of dogs, implementing a dog tax will require more effort. “We don’t do individual assessments for the community,” Michael Cerny says of his Amberg. “The destination of this discussion should be the Free State of Bavaria.” If he wanted, he could abolish the racial list. After that, Amberg will also take over.

“Unfair” tax

Vanessa Vogel believes racial lists are outdated and tax increases are unfair. The Rottweiler, along with 20 other breeds, belongs to the category of “dogs with irrefutable fighting characteristics.” This means the dog must undergo a temperament test. A negative certificate proves he does not have fighting dog characteristics. Animals that undergo temperament testing are officially considered peaceful. “But the city doesn’t care.” Previously, there was a tax reduction for dogs with negative certificates. These have been removed by the new model law. Currently, all dogs listed, with or without temperament testing, are priced higher.

According to the Upper Palatinate government, 93 bite incidents were reported across Upper Palatinate in 2022. The dog listed has been bitten three times. The remaining 90 bites were caused by “other dogs”, said Manfred Schmied, deputy spokesperson for the Upper Palatinate government. There were 107 bite incidents in 2021, but again only three dogs on the list were involved. Amberg Police Department reported five dog bite incidents in 2023.

I was bitten by a chihuahua

If the city of Amberg is concerned about the safety of its citizens, other measures make more sense, Rottweiler owners say. She also has a suggestion from her. “We are increasing the dog tax for everyone to 100 euros. If you take your dog with you to the test, you will only pay 50 euros.” I’m here. My Chihuahua has already bitten my bonsai leg twice. “I had my bonsai on a leash, but my Chihuahua ran away.” The little dog wouldn’t let go of the Rottweiler until his master came. “Such dogs are considered peaceful and are cheap. But now we have to pay more for bonsai. It’s always because of dog fighting.” Vanessa Vogel agrees that protecting the public is a priority. I believe it should be. However, this is not guaranteed as listed dogs are subject to high taxes.

“The city also says prices are still at low levels, but that’s not true,” said Vanessa Vogel. Local governments can only raise dog taxes up to 10 times the normal rate. From 50 euros to 500 euros, Amberg remains at the limit. Mayor Černý said: “The tax on dogs on the list has just been introduced, so the tax could have been set higher.” Previously, there was no special tax on listed dogs, so the tax will not be increased 10 times. The woman from Amberg has now started a petition for the Free State of Bavaria. She calls for “owner knowledge instead of a breed list” and therefore calls for the breed list to be abolished. And she, she introduces a proof of expertise to all dog owners. “We want to show that the dogs on our list are normal dogs, just like any other dog, and are not carnivores.”

Bavaria’s regulations for aggressive and dangerous dogs


What is a list dog?

  • In Bavaria, regulations were passed in 1992 to protect residents from attacks by particularly aggressive dogs.
  • Dog breeds are divided into registered dogs and non-registered dogs.
  • Dogs on the list are considered dangerous or potentially dangerous by law.
  • The dogs on the list are divided into two categories: Breeds Category 1 and dog breed Category 2.
  • for dogs Category 1 Owner permission is required to keep an animal.
  • Examples: (American) Pit Bull, (American) Staffordshire Terrier, Band Dog, Tosa Inu.
  • for animals Category 2 Owners must complete a temperament test on their dog.
  • Examples: American Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Bullmastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, Fila Brasileiro, Mastiff, Rottweiler.

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