Associated Press | Mikko Schimmelfeder

German City Seizes And Sells Pet Pug On Ebay To Cover Family's Debts

Although I have been able to rack up debts in my time, I have never really feared that a repo man would come knocking on my door to cart away any of my belongings. I would expect that even less from a government agency.

I guess it's a good thing I didn't go too deep into debt in Germany, because apparently they'll try just about anything to recover what they're owed, right down to taking the family pet.

In a bizarre case of a city trying to recoup money it was owed, officials from the German city of Ahlen seized a family's pet pug and sold it on eBay.

The Local | DPA

The debts to the city included an unpaid dog tax and somehow, months after the sale was concluded, nobody involved is happy with the arrangement.

It's mind-boggling to think that such a thing might be legal, but the city's officials claim they were within their rights to confiscate and sell the purebred pug, named Edda.

In an email to NPR, Frank Merschhaus, a spokesperson for the city of Ahlen, said that open claims by the city's treasury office made the seizure and sale of Edda "legally permissible" because she was valuable.

According to Edda's owners, the city's workers scoured their home for anything valuable to sell to make up their debts.

The family's mother told German newspaper Ahlener Tageblatt that the officers even tried to seize her paraplegic husband's handbike and wheelchair until they were informed that the items didn't technically belong to him — a charge that Merschhaus denied to NPR.

So, in December 2018, Edda went up for sale on eBay.

Ahlener Tageblatt

And, somehow, that escaped the media's notice. It wasn't until Edda's buyer, a police officer in a nearby town, started complaining that she had been sold an unhealthy dog.

See, within a week of the purchase, the police officer discovered that Edda, who she had purchased for about $850, needed a $2,000 eye surgery.

The police officer said that she did have some initial misgivings about Edda given how she had been obtained.

The relatively low price for a purebred pug raised some red flags as well.

But after receiving assurances that it was all legal and that Edda was in good health, and that she would go to the first person who paid up, the police officer went ahead anyway.

So, the police officer is now suing Ahlen to be reimbursed for both the vet bills and the initial purchase price.

Ahlener Tageblatt

And of course, Edda's original family is still heartbroken over the loss of their pet.

[The Local] reported that Edda had been a comfort animal to the family's mother, who has mental health problems, while the children, aged five, seven, and nine, still "miss Edda very much."

And with the police officer's lawsuit looming, the city might be out the funds they were trying to reclaim in the first place, and then some.

Considering that, according to Merschhaus, it was the first time the city had ever seized a pet over outstanding debts, you have to think it might be the last time as well.

h/t NPR, Associated Press, The Local