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Some Call This Debt Solution ‘Pragmatic.‘ Others, Cruel

The Free Press WV

A family of five in Germany that fell on hard times had one prized possession: their 1-year-old purebred pug, Edda. But after not being able to pay their bills, including an almost $90 annual dog tax levied by the city of Ahlen, a debt collector came up with what a city spokesperson calls a “pragmatic solution”: seizing Edda and selling her on eBay, per the New York Times. The Washington Post notes that when town officials went with a search warrant to the family’s home to see what assets they could take, they spotted a laptop, a coffee maker, the disabled dad’s wheelchair (which local media said they considered taking as well), and … Edda. And so they took the dog, valued her at around $850, and put her up for sale on the auction site. Police officer Michaela Jordan ended up buying Edda, for a “slightly lower price” than listed, says the town’s treasurer.

Frank Merschhaus, a spokesman for the city, told NPR in an email that taking the pug was “legally permissible,“ though he conceded that Edda being put up for sale on a private eBay account was a “very questionable decision” by the official who did so. “It cannot be ruled out that in some cases a staff member can sometimes make a misjudgment,“ he said. Jordan isn’t happy, either, as she claims that Edda has turned out to be a sickly dog who’s already needed four operations. “I’m really upset,“ she tells the German tabloid Bild, via the Times; she’s also planning on suing the city. As for the whispers on the wheelchair, which the media has reported couldn’t be seized after all because it didn’t belong to the father, Merschhaus calls it a “wicked rumor,“ per the BBC.

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