Taxman seizes family dog
A GERMAN family had their pet pug seized by officials and sold on eBay to recoup unpaid taxes.
The city workers initially had their eyes on the wheelchair of a disabled resident as the most valuable item in the home, according to local media, but they turned their attention to the female black pug, Edda.
One of the officials then put the dog up for sale online for the bargain price of $AU1200.
Edda was bought by a police officer named Michaela Jordan, as reported in local newspaper Ahlener Tageblatt, who was suspicious of the low price.
Ms Jordan contacted the seller and was told by an official of the west German city of Ahlen that Edda had been seized because the owner owed the city money, including for unpaid dog tax.
She was told the dog was healthy but once she had taken Edda in, she discovered the pug had medical issues not disclosed by the city official.
The pedigree pooch has had four operations since December because of an eye issue and Ms Jordan now wants to be reimbursed $AU2880 by the city.
The complaint was covered by the local paper which also tracked down Edda's original owner.
"How it all ended, that was absolutely not okay," said the former owner.
She told the newspaper a court bailiff and two city officials searched her home in November for valuable items to seize. She says they wanted the wheelchair but it was owned by an insurance association.
But a spokesman for the city, Frank Merschhausm, said this was just a rumour.
"Aids to ensure the mobility of people with disabilities are absolutely exempt - unlike pets," he said.
But he defended the seizure of Edda in an email to the National Public Radio in the US, saying that "the valuable pet" was "legally permissible" because of open claims by the city's treasury office.
Though he admitted the actions of the city official was unusual.
"Obtaining the proceeds of the sale through a private eBay account was a very questionable decision by the enforcement officer," Mr Merschhausm said.
"It cannot be ruled out that in some cases a staff member can sometimes make a misjudgment."
But he also said "owners who pay their dog tax properly do not need to fear enforcement".
"Only if multiple requests for payment go ignored or agreements for instalment payments are not adhered to.
"It is a very long way to seizure."