A hungry dwarf rabbit hops through your garden, a budgerigar flies through the open window into the apartment, a stray dog runs towards you. What is the right way to behave in such a situation?
In principle, found home and pets such as cats, dogs, small animals, ornamental birds or farm animals fall under the right to find (§§ 965 – 984 BGB). After that, the finder must immediately report the find to the owner or the competent lost property authority and may under no circumstances simply keep such an animal.
Animals found or lost must therefore be handed in to the responsible animal shelter or to the nearest police station if the owner is not known. The police and the animal shelter record the personal details of the finder. The finder has thus fulfilled his obligation to report. Animals handed over to the police are taken to the responsible animal shelter.
Animal shelters are the collection points for lost animals. That is why owners who report a loss are always referred to the animal shelters by the police or the authorities. In this way, the owner can often find his missing animal quickly.
If the finder would like to keep the animal, according to the law he must wait six months before he can acquire it as property (§ 973 BGB). In the interest of the animal and to minimize costs, however, another practice has proven its worth: the finder can initially take the animal in, but has to wait six months until it belongs to him. If the owner is determined during this time, he must hand over the animal.
Tied up in the forest, left in parking lots, or simply thrown out of the car: as soon as the holiday season approaches, many dogs suddenly become ballast for their owners.
Instead of forgoing the trip or taking appropriate precautions, supposedly animal-loving dog owners choose the easiest way for them: they simply leave their four-legged friend to fate. Without outside help, such an animal is lost in most cases. So what do you do when you find an abandoned dog?
If you suspect you have a «vacation victim» in front of you, take a close look at the animal. If the dog seems unsettled, weak, disoriented, or is walking around in a state of confusion, or is frightened, please contact the nearest police station or local animal shelter. Stay with the animal until it is officially taken into care. Please don’t just take the dog home with you! Found pets fall under the law on lost property (§§ 965 – 984 BGB) and may not be kept.
But what if the four-legged friend has already put a paw in your heart? Even if it is difficult, you unfortunately have to be patient for six months. Only after this period has expired can you officially accept the animal.