Animal shelters in Germany have to take in large numbers of abandoned animals during the holiday season. In an emergency, you can also give your animal there legally. The costs for this in Germany are quite different.

This article first appeared on in mid-January. In view of the many illegally abandoned animals, we are republishing it in a modified form with a current context.

The Hamburg animal shelter recorded the first “holiday victims” these days, as stated in a press release: According to animal rights activists, 97 animals were allegedly abandoned in the city area in the past three weeks alone, picked up by the animal rescue service or taken directly to the facility on Süderstraße , for some pets the start of the holiday ended fatally.

In the worst case, the animal shelter in the Hanseatic city expects to find more than 50 animals per week during the long holidays. It is true that facilities like this are not intended as holiday accommodation. However, animal shelter boss Janet Bernhardt says: “Anyone who can no longer or does not want to take care of their animal should at least give it to a safe place like our animal shelter.”

The facility in East Hamburg records around 800 cases a year in which pets are given away by their owners, said a spokeswoman for the animal shelter, which takes in around 4000 pets a year on average, to the stern when researching this article in January. In addition to the animals handed over, there are official seizures and also found animals, such as stray cats that apparently do not belong to anyone.

Giving your cat or dog to an animal shelter is a difficult and sad decision

Giving up a cat or dog to an animal shelter is a painful decision for most people and should be the last option – however, it is still better than simply abandoning the animal, which can be life-threatening not only for the animal but also with you punishable by a fine of up to 25,000 euros. If the animal’s life is threatened, it is also a criminal offense for which there is a risk of up to three years in prison.

The costs for leaving a pet in an animal shelter vary widely across Germany, as the specialist for animal health insurance, SantéVet, found out in a study at the beginning of the year. On average, pet owners have to pay 89 euros for a dog and 54 euros for a cat, according to the results of a survey of animal shelters in the 20 largest cities in Germany.

According to the study, anyone who gives up their pet in Hamburg or Bochum pays the most: Giving a dog away to the care of animal rights activists costs 250 euros in both cities, a cat in Hamburg 150 euros and in Bochum 100 euros.

In Leipzig, 180 euros would be charged for a dog and 90 euros for a cat, in Bremen 140 euros for a dog and 100 euros for a cat.

Leaving listed dogs at an animal shelter can cost hundreds of euros

Sometimes it can also be more expensive – for example with list dogs, which experience has shown are more difficult to find new owners. “In Bochum, for example, the delivery costs can increase to up to 400 euros, in Hamburg to up to 350 euros,” was the result of the survey.

The experts from SantéVet recommend that anyone who cannot afford the delivery costs should still contact the responsible animal shelter. Then we can come up with a solution together.

In some animal shelters, pets are also free of charge – according to the survey, the facilities in Cologne and Nuremberg do not charge any money for this. However, the Nuremberg animal shelter, for example, expressly points out that owners are responsible for their animals. The decision to give away your pet should never be taken lightly.

In Münster and Düsseldorf, the fee is comparatively cheap, the survey shows: in the university city, an average of 13 euros is charged for dogs and cats, in the Rhine metropolis 15 euros.

However, whether the fees appear high or low, they are symbolic, as they do not cover the cost of food or veterinary care. Every pet owner knows that from experience.

According to the German Animal Welfare Association, there are more than 550 animal shelters in Germany alone that are affiliated with the organization’s clubs. These are a lot of contact points for people who have to give up their animal in an emergency. Nevertheless, many animals are apparently being abandoned again at the moment. “Especially if they thoughtlessly bought a pet during the Corona period, pet owners now face housing problems now that travel is possible again,” says the Hamburg Animal Welfare Association.

Animal shelters only mediate castrated, microchipped and vaccinated protégés – accordingly, they either only accept such animals or charge fees if the criteria are not met. So if you give a dog or cat to an animal shelter with a heavy heart, you can at least be sure that the former roommate will be well cared for there – and hope that the animal will find a new home.

“We have a lot of understanding if you can no longer take care of your animal for various reasons – financial, family, because of the job – and then give it to us,” said the spokeswoman for the Hamburg animal shelter. And sad stories often have happy endings. The facility’s website currently shows some found animals that are “already in mediation”.

Sources: Hamburger Tierschutzverein, SantéVet

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