For many people, moving to an overseas installation can be a uniquely stressful event. Household goods have to be carefully packed, vehicles need to be cleaned and shipped, plenty of paperwork is needed, and family members have to be prepared for the long flight.
One added stressor can be the family pet and what their life in Germany will be like. Will there be a good veterinarian there? Will there be dog parks? Can pets travel with the family on vacation? For those with four-legged family members to consider, the following tips may make the transition easier for all involved, even the family pet.
Finding veterinary care providers
Upon arrival to Stuttgart, finding suitable veterinary care is simple. The Stuttgart Veterinary Treatment Facility, located on Panzer Kaserne, offers space-available routine annual exams, vaccinations and sick call appointments.
Military members, Department of Defense civilians and their dependents are authorized to bring their pets to the clinic during their tour in Stuttgart.
For some families, it is more convenient to have their animal seen at a host nation veterinary clinic. Here in Stuttgart, pet owners can find several great clinics in the local area, including 24-hour emergency facilities, specialty hospitals where pets can receive advanced diagnostic and surgical care and some excellent general practice veterinary clinics. Many German veterinarians speak English, so there is no need to worry about a language barrier disrupting a pet’s medical care, and some also accept the VAT form.
In addition to veterinary clinics, Stuttgart also has a good selection of boarding facilities, pet stores and dog groomers. While not all-inclusive, a short list of host-nation veterinary clinics and other animal businesses is available at the veterinary clinic and on its Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Stuttgartveterinaryclinic
Know the rules
Living with pets in Germany can be a rewarding experience as many local businesses allow well-behaved dogs inside their establishments. Dogs are often allowed to ride on the public transportation system at a discounted fair.
However, there are some laws governing animal ownership that might be new to people coming from the U.S. Certain breeds (for example, American Staffordshire terriers and bull terriers) are completely banned from entering Germany, and those attempting to import them can be fined or imprisoned while the animal can be deported or seized. Other breeds are restricted, meaning they are permitted to be in Germany, but special precautions could be required, such as the dog wearing a muzzle when in public, undergoing temperament evaluation, or the owner may be required to take out a special liability insurance policy on the pet. The list of breeds varies by city and state, so owners are encouraged to contact their local German town halls for additional information.
It is important for American personnel to understand that traditionally, pets in Germany have a high level of obedience training. Many regular pet owners, not just hobby pet-show competitors, take their dogs to a number of extensive training sessions. Obedience training is offered by several local dog clubs and many of the members speak English. Pets are often expected to be as self-disciplined and quiet as a very well-behaved child. An out of control pet is looked down upon in Germany. Additionally, leash laws and other pet-related ordnances in Germany can be more extensive and vary from town-to-town or county-to-county. Again, the local German town hall can be a good source of information on local ordinances and pet clubs that offer training.
Traveling with a pet
Pet owners looking to travel with their pet while in Europe may be surprised to see how easy and fun it can be. Within the European Union, an EU pet passport has been established that contains a brief history of a pet’s vaccination records and important lab work. This passport allows the pet to move with the owner within most nations of the EU with ease. In most cases, travelers will not need to see a veterinarian for a health certificate like the one needed when traveling from the U.S. to Germany. As long as the passport is up-to-date and contains all the necessary information, travelers can usually just get in the car and go. EU pet passports are highly recommended as they greatly simplify the vacation travel process and help alleviate stress.
For additional questions, contact the Stuttgart Veterinary Treatment Facility at 431-2681/civ. 07031-15-2681. The VTF is located in Building 2996, next to the dental clinic, on Panzer Kaserne.