City workers in Germany have seized a family's pedigreed pet pug and sold the animal on eBay to cover the debts of its owners, including an unpaid dog tax.
Then, one of the officials listed the dog on eBay for the bargain price of 750 euros, or around $854 - about half of what the new owner had expected to dole out, local newspaper Ahlener Tageblatt reported.
The family in question had allegedly failed to pay its debts to the town, including a dog tax.
The full details of the case only emerged after the dog's new owner sued the town authorities, claiming they had not made clear Edda had serious health issues including an eye problem that needed four operations.
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Mr Frank Merschhausm, spokesman for the city of Ahlen, told NPR in an e-mail that their seizure of Edda the pug was "legally permissible" but that the criticism of the tactics may be warranted. "No enforcement officer would come up with the idea". The new owner, a policewoman, is now demanding reimbursement from the city for the procedures as well as the $850 purchase price of the pug.
While all names in the story (bar that of pup Edda) have had to be redacted for legal reasons, the original owner told the BBC "How it all ended, that was absolutely not okay". She told the newspaper that she learned the dog was unwell one week later.
"I know now that Edda is in good hands", she said, but added her three children miss the dog.
The former owner of the dog told the Ahlener Tageblatt that the officials first considered seizing the wheelchair belonging to her disabled husband, but since it was not their property and belonged to an employee insurance association, they took the dog as the most valuable possession. "Only if multiple requests for payment go ignored or agreements for installment payments are not adhered to", are steps taken.