My experience with dog adoption in Germany

Or: Welcome home, Motek!

On the day my beloved dog Schwitsi passed away, I immediately started to plan, how I let another dog adopt me.

Schwitsi was my companion for 13 years. She came with me to Germany, it was her, me and the luggage.

First night in Germany, after the flight

After her death – the empty house, the empty heart, the missing part of the pack, the resources I have to give, the love and good life I can, and wish to provide, the unconditional love I know I will get, all made it very clear, life without a dog are something I can’t bare.

Two months later, the journey began.

Now, in Israel, there are too many stray dogs that end up in shelters. So many are in shelters that every month, hundreds of them are put to sleep, because there is not enough space for all of them.

When one wishes to adopt a dog, one goes to the nearest shelter, picks a dog, signs some papers and leaves with a four-legs-pack-of-joy.

The situation in Germany is far more complex. To put it short: There are no dogs for adoption in Germany. Almost.
When you go to a shelter in Germany, you can find the “dangerous” races, the old and the sick. These, one day, when I’ll have my farm – I will adopt them all. But the current situation allows me to adopt small dogs. I prefer mixed, for not supporting breeding.

This situation of not having stray dogs in Germany, is a good thing. It indicates an educated society: People don’t throw their dogs to the street. People castrate/spay. People won’t adopt dogs without knowing that they can handle it in the next 15 years.

The above does not reflect on 100% or the people – of course. Every group of people on this planet, got their fare share of idiots.

Buying a dog is not an option. It is a horrible thing to do, while you have so many dogs without a home in the world, to pay someone to breed dogs, mass production, just because it looks like it is out of a fashion magazine. Horrible.

Back to the shelters situation:
Each Saturday, a long line of people is standing outside the shelters – families, couples, old people – rushing in when the gate is opened, just to discover around 5 dogs, and maybe to get lucky and adopt one of them, if it fits a city-house.

There are two main shelters in Hamburg – in both, the same situation. The shelters outside, usually update their website, and you just see that there are no dogs there.

When you do find a dog to adopt in a shelter, then starts the process: There will be a visit to your house, to determinate that it fits the dog. Then your details will be sent to the veterinary service to check if you have a past of cruelty to animals. Then (in the main shelter in Hamburg for example), you need to come five times to the shelter, and demonstrate walking with the dog, to determinate if the two of you are getting along. Finally, singing a contract, and having another visit in 6 months past the adoption.

Then, after around three to five weeks, you can take the dog home.
If you found one.

But there there is another angle to it – most of the dogs in the shelters, are not from Germany. I will come to this later.

So what most people do?

There are many stray dogs around Europe. German organisations are co-managing most of the big shelters around east Europe, mainly Romania. Dogs are delivered from Spain, Hungaria, Poland…

There are three main courses:

1.
The way most of the people do, is to browse pictures of dogs on internet websites. These dogs are in shelters in the origin countries.
Once you pick a dog, and you fill the form, pay etc – the dog is being delivered to you, mostly in a truck with many others, from the country of origin.

I knew that I cannot adopt a dog without meeting him! Picking a dog on an internet catalog?

** idea – Tindog. (searched – already exists).

2.
The second way to adopt is: Dogs that are being delivered to the shelters in Germany. As described above – very little amount, and they immediately get adopted. Since the shelters almost never get “German” dogs, and since they do get budgets per tail, and since there is such a demand – they just import dogs from other countries.

3.
The middle way: foster home. The dogs are sent to Germany to temporal families , then, their picture is being published on ebay, and then you can come and meet the dog first. The process is a bit shorter, since an association is involved here, exactly as with the shelter.

4.
Adopting a dog from ebay, from a family, that their dog just had babies, or in some horrible cases, they cannot take care of him.

So number 3 is how it went. I found a wonderful dog on ebay, drove 3 hours to the north to see him, just to discover that he is sick.

Why?
The current situation in Europe is, that most of the dogs are from Romania. And there, diseases are spreading, the conditions are really bad, and breeders for mixed dogs are abusing the situation of German associations paying to save dogs (same situation in Poland).

The biggest shelter in Romania, co-managed by a German organisation, holds around 5000 dogs.

By law, they have to be checked before coming to Germany, but with the doctors there, it is more problematic.
Also, some people just go there, take dogs to Germany and offer them on ebay, earning some Euros, but not as professional associations, and the treatment is as it sounds.

When asked about the medical situation of the dog I wanted to adopt, I got an answer:

“The dog deserves someone who is not questioning him and is sure that wants him sick or not”.

Come the fuck on.

Then I found another dog, drove two hours to Hannover, fall in love, had a horrible experience with the organisation that brought her to Germany, but kept in mind the goal – to bring her to her new home.

And this is how we got Motek, the Hungarian dog.
She was found in the streets of a south Hungarian town, brought to a shelter there, picked by a German association, brought to a foster home next to Hannover, lived there for few weeks with other dogs, got a cold on the way, got medical treatment, and then, finally, found her final, loving home in Hamburg.

It was her first shower. First bed that she is allowed to sleep on. First eating without fighting over the food. First own toys (as the first days, playing with a toy, looking to the sides that no one is taking it from her, and crying).
She brought back the love, the happiness, the noise and life into my house that Schwitsi left empty.

It was a hard process, but it was worth it.

It was a frustrating process, but It indicates a good situation – almost no stray dogs in Germany, people standing in line to adopt. After all, it is all for the dogs.

It was indeed worth it.

Adopt a dog! Have a better life!

Motek, on our first date
Motek, in her new home

This is my experience, and my learning. I am sure that it can be different to other people, in other areas in Germany, or in the eastern countries I’ve mentioned. Adopt a dog!