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Family asks for support after critically disabled boy's beloved dog threatened by Breed Specific Legislation

P8010053_thumb By Tamara | November 24, 2013 | Comments (28)

Tascha the Staffordshire Terrier may be taken from Dylan, a severely disabled boy, in Germany due to BSL

The parents of a severely disabled boy are asking for support after breed specific legislation threatens to take away their boy's beloved dog. Dylan is 10 years old and has lived in a vegetative state since birth. Dylan's parents, Eckhard and Barbara Gerzmehle, care for him around the clock and machines monitor his vital signs and health. Dylan is also cared for by his faithful friend Tascha, a 6-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Every morning, Tascha goes to Dylan's room and gently pulls his blanket aside. She then tenderly licks his feet and snuggles up to him for a cuddle. Although Dylan cannot speak and cannot physically gesture, his family says that Tascha's love effects him positively. They note that the machines next to Dylan's bed always register a response whenever Tascha is around. 

"Whenever the dog is with him, our son responds. He is happy," says Dylan's father Eckhard, 59. "His breathing becomes quieter, his heart rate falls. That could only be because of this dog."

Tascha the Staffordshire terrier provides comfort to Dylan but may be taken away because of BSL

But now the family is facing a terrible crisis. Tascha may no longer be able to stay with Dylan and her family because of her breed. The Gerzmehles live in Schonwalde, located in Brandenburg, a district northeast of Berlin, Germany. The family moved to Schonwalde from Berlin to give Dylan a more peaceful surroundings. His room is beautifully decorated and their home makes it easier to care for Dylan. 

Unfortunately, unlike Berlin, Brandenburg has dangerous dog breed legislation that does not permit Staffordshire Terriers. Until recently, the district had not objected to Tascha as she has been neutered, properly reported and has received training from certified dog trainers. She also has passed temperament tests. But due to an unfortunate incident involving the neighbor's dog, the authorities are now enforcing the law.

While the family was outside of their home Tascha got into a fight with the neighbor's dog. According to Erna-Graff-Foundation for Animal Welfare (Erna Graff Stiftung Fur Tierschutz), the Gerzmehles paid for the vet treatment for the injured dog and apologized for what happened. The dog is expected to fully recover from his injuries. However, the Office has made it clear they want to pick up Tascha and take her away. "They were already here several times," Barbara, 49, said.

Now the family is seeking public support and legal assistance to keep Tascha with Dylan. The Erna-Graff-Foundation for Animal Welfare is supporting the family legally. Their Foundation Board of Directors said, "If necessary, we will bring this matter before the Federal Constitutional Court."

Dylan's doctor also has spoken out for Dylan, saying the dog acts as a therapy dog for the critically ill boy and strongly advises against taking Tascha away from Dylan. 

"We could really use the support of the authorities," said Eckhard. The family wants to keep Tascha and to keep "every little spark of happiness" they can for their son.

The authorities have not yet responded to media inquiries when contacted on Friday.

An online petition (in German language only) can be found here and a Facebook support page here.

Please note: This article was roughly translated from article that appeared in BZ Berlin and The Erna Graff Foundation. Therefore some of the details in my article may not be exactly as reported these German publications. I apologize in advance for any inconsistences. Any assistance from German-speaking community members here on DogHeirs would be greatly appreciated!


Update: December 4, 2013

Tascha will get to stay with her family and continue to care for Dylan! Tascha has won an 11th hour reprieve after authorities in Brandenburg have decided the dog does not have to be relocated or face euthanasia.

Nearly 100,000 people signed a petition demanding that Tascha be exempt from the state's breed specific legislation. After Dylan's parents met with authorities, they learned they told the Local, "We are so happy and thankful, also for the support."




View more articles in: Advocacy and Animal Welfare

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Comments on this Article

The only thing that matters now is the dog gets to stay with her kid!! So glad this was turned around and there is a happy ending.
A few of the recent comments are hateful. Number one, the dog shouldn't be put down because it "attacked" another dog. You don't know the circumstances. The other dog could have started it and Tascha just happened to be the stronger, more aggressive one. And it may have been the other way around, but Tascha was a contributor to keeping the boy alive. So it was senseless to even think of ending the dogs life. Number two, how dare you say "Why do they let the boy live". If you were a parent who had the choice of letting your son die or letting him live, what would you say? It doesn't matter if he can't talk, show emotion and etc. Parents are Parents, they'll love their child no matter what. It makes me angry that people have such ugly hearts towards other people, but I praise the people who took time to write nice comments. God bless.
Thank you for showing them mercy. Peace.
Maybe you're wrong, Sienna! the other dog maybe just entered in the courtyard of this dog, and Tascha just difended what is hers. I had a Hungarian Puli which was very aggressive in his own courtyard, and I'd say that's normal. You say, a dog by being protective, should die??? I don't think so.
The dog caused injury to another dog so it should be taken away regardless of what its used for. If you cant control your dog you don't deserve to keep it end of.
vegetative state since birth?? WHY then do they let the boy live? It isn't as if the child has friends, is educated, or happy. He wouldn't even know who his parents are. I'd rather euthanize the mom, dad, and this boy and find another good home in Berlin for the dog.
redux of the terrible lennox tragedy in Belfast. human ignorance kills :(
At what point do we as humans the higher mammal stop being so stupid. Breed Specific laws are out dated, we proven that the dogs you claim dangerous and harmful are caring and loving. Owners are the true cause of the so called dogs that are dangerous (sadly) Instead of killing and banning I want to see the laws reflex the actions of the owners !! If as a owner you make a breed dangerous and harmful to the public or anyone they need to be locked up,paying fines, and community service, what ever it takes to punish their bad behavior !! and help change it !! PLEASE do not take this loving creature from this boy and his family. You know in your hearts that to do this would destroy this family, and when you do that you have become as dangerous as the owners who teach their animals to be harmful. Prayers and hope to this family and to Dylan.
DYLAN UND TASCHA: NACHWEIS FÜR HUND ENTSCHEIDEND Der Hunde muss Beschlagnahmt werden. Erstens weil der Hund einen anderen Hund gebissen hat, zweitens ist die Haltung eines Staffordshire Bullterriers in Brandenburg verboten, und drittens hat der Hunde keine Behinderten Begleithundeausbildung und Prüfung abgelegt. Daher kann der Hund nicht als Behindertenbegleithund anerkannt werden.
This is repugnant for those of us who recognize the comfort animals give to everyone, especially a disabled child such as this one. Breed-specific legislation shows the profound ignorance of a government that tries to enforce law that is unenforceable. It harms those who can least protect themselves while protecting the vicious. In this case the town needs to shut the hell up and get out of the situation. Breed-specific legislation cannot be enforced because those who enforce it cannot identify breeds – they simply are profoundly ignorant and cannot be trusted. Germany needs to come into the 21st century by scrapping breed-specific legislation and enforcing vicious dog legislation.
Matt: one question - what even qualifies you to have an opinion? in one post, you have presented yourself as a canine behaviourist, an expert in human psychology, AND as someone with the ability to see through time and space to not only what "really" happened but also to the "true" motives behind the actions. bugger off. seriously. btw: your "statistics" make no sense because they are based on faulty data. "pit bull" bites are NOT accurately measured because the majority of the population (including you, clearly) wouldn't recognize a true pibble if it rose up and bit you on the butt. also, ANY damage from a dog, including scratches, from ANY incident, including a rambunctious puppy knocking a child down in play, is recorded as a "bite".
What's amazing about this is that Staffordshire Bull Terriers aren't even "pitt bulls". They are one of the dogs originally used to make the pitt bull breed, but it is not a pitt bull. The only traits that the pitt bulls get from Staffies is the stocky appearance and it's face. It irks me to no end when these dogs get singled out and put down simply b/c they LOOK like pitt bulls. Also, I agree with Sue. Any dog has the potential to be "dangerous" and any dog has the potential to be a life saver. It is all in their personality. Tascha is a life saver for this young boy. Leave the family alone and let the boy keep his beloved best friend.
I don't agree with Matt 's characterization of Pibbies, but outside of that he basically makes very valid points. There isn't enough information in this story to make any kind of determination. BSLs simply don't address the correct questions. It is broadsword that causes way too much collateral damage, when more sensible legislation would ask for if not scalpel at least a knife. Having said that these people choose to move to an area where BSL were already in place getting special permission for their animal. Then they allowed their dog to attack another dog! However again there is not enough information here. What kind of temperament tests did the dog pass and what was the nature of the violence? Was it irresponsible of these owners considering where they lived and the importance of this dog to their son to ever let it around other dogs without being muzzled? I don't know and neither does anybody else who knows nothing more about the story than has been reported here. These particular dog owners might very well have engaged in some irresponsible behavior. Again no one is able to say, reasonably, based solely on the information presented here, one way or the other.
This is just simply ridiculous! We shouldn't be banning dogs because of their breed. We should be banning people!!!
So, im a dog owner. I know my dogs could turn in an instant..they are dogs and its their instinct to be "top dog" and fight over food, bitches, attention etc. It may surprise you to learn that I own four cavalier king charles spaniels, I have also owned labradors,yorkshire terriers and cocker spaniels. I have also had exexperience with bichon frise and Staffordshire bull terriors. Of all the dogs ive been around the "staffies" have been the best natured! My gran also owned a terrior cross and it was the most evil dog on the planet, she bit my grandfather, me and my kids. It was very very spoilt and I agree with anyone who will say its the owners fault not the dogs. My cavs will fight to the death over a bowl of food, I cant trust them around my kids and they are meant to be the best natured breed!! Any dog can turn, if this dog is helojng that child have a better quality of life then he deserves to live to do what he can for that child xx
Of course this is making the rounds on social media because of the headline. And, as usual, people aren't bothering (for the most part) to go in and actually read the story. However, this gets to me in two ways in that both sides are at fault. Completely at fault. BSL is wrong and should not be enacted anywhere. Period. However we as owners and advocates have to be educated enough not to put our kids and/or dogs in this situation. This family knowingly moved from a place that didn't have BSL implemented to a place tha does. It's not the "I'm going to rip your family member away from you" type of BSL, but just stricter regulations with the bully breeds. Regardless, it happened and now we're scrambling to save a couple lives instead of not putting them in that situation in the first place. I understand the need for more 'peaceful' surroundings for their child...but what kind of peace did this bring? It's horrifying. These are the things we as advocates have to look at. Objectively. We earn no respect with any other part of the World when we assign blame and excuse the actions that were just as wrong. And before anyone reams me, I am a responsible dog owner. Three of them happen to be PItties. One Rott, one Ridgeback and two Min Pins. We are missing the point. We need to educate people first. Not go totally scary reactive when something like this pops up.
So the two dogs got into what amounts to the doggie equivalent of a kid shoving match and one or both lost some fur. It will grow back. Dogs do that sometimes. It doesn't make the bigger one and winner a doggie serial killer. On the other hand the couple moved to a place that had BSL which I don't feel was the smartest decision. The got the dog, they know he is a Staffordshire terrier. They have an obligation to not move him into danger. It's no different than moving into a house on a main road with high speed traffic. BSL is the reason that I don't see myself visiting the Providence of Ontario any time soon. I have a large brindle dog. He doesn't look like he has any pit in him, but Ont. has BSL and all it takes is a local cop to decide to use the law to bother a dog that he doesn't like and "I sorry our officer made a mistake" isn't going to help him after they kill him. It's my responsibility to keep him as safe as I can. With that said BSL are just Jim Crow laws applied to dogs.
@MattA: you obviously don't have much of a clue do you!! you obviously don't own one of this breed of dog. I do and I can proudly say they are the best dogs I could wish for. They love children. When there's a child around they turn into different dogs altogether. There you are throwing around what you think are facts. Well the Staffordshire Bull Terrier are one of only two breeds out of over 190 recognized breeds that are considered good with children by the UK Kennel Club. Also they have the highest percent pass rate in temperament test for re-homing rescued dogs in America at a figure of 93.4%. The next highest is the American Pittbull at 84.6%. You think these breeds should be wiped out!! Well if thats your solution then i hope you never get into power with any government because that would probably also be your solution to crime & war. Lets wipe out all the Germans because of what they did in the World Wars. Who cares if alot of the Germans are good people, they must all be classed the same. Then lets take out the Americans, they're all the same too sure and must deserve it. Us Irish should go because we're all alcoholics & fight after drink. When we're done with killing each other we'll have solved the problem with Global Warming and there'll be no more of us evil b@st@rds killing innocent animals. No need to wipe out these breeds then because there'll be no more people for them to attack or mistreating them. Just reading back over that I realize what a good plan that is!! Now go slap some cop on into yourself please
Asinine Matt? I stand by my comment about people who are true to their breed. You have made my point for me! Pit bulls are not bred to kill, they are born and then TRAINED to kill. Many years ago it was the Doberman that was soooo vicious then the Rottweiler . What will it be next? Maybe the individuals who train the pits are the ones who should be exiled?? Works for me.
Noone has any right to take anyone's dog away just because of looks and/or breed. this dog is a therapy dog. We can't let this be another Lennox tragedy. He was a therapy dog as well. BSL is wrong all over the world and needs to be abolished.
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