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A Family's Pug Was Seized And Sold On eBay Because Of Unpaid Taxes

Now the new owner is claiming the city ripped her off.

Posted on February 28, 2019, at 6:09 p.m. ET

SAT. 1 / Via

A German city seized a woman’s pug because she owed the local government money, then sold the pet via eBay’s classified section.

A spokesperson for Ahlen, a city of about 50,000 people in the northwest of Germany, told Bild that the seizure and sale were legal — but he acknowledged it was the first time an animal had been taken by the city over debts. The story made national news in Germany, prompting outrage among pet owners and animal activists.

The seizure took place in November, and a city employee listed 1-year-old Edda, a black pug, for sale online, the Glocke newspaper reported.

“Sweet female pug with pedigree for sale! Not spayed!” the listing read, according to Bild.

SAT. 1 / Via

The 750 euro price caught the eye of a local police officer, Michaela Jordan, a pug lover who had been wanting another dog; the breed typically sells for 1,500–2,000 euros, the Glocke reported. When Jordan called the phone number in the listing, she spoke with a city employee and was assured the sale was aboveboard and that the dog was healthy, the newspaper reported.

But a week later, Edda was suffering a severe issue with her eyes and needed medical attention and ultimately surgery, Jordan told the newspaper. After more emergency surgeries, Jordan said she had paid 1,800 euros in vet bills — money she’s now seeking as a refund from the city of Ahlen.

SAT. 1 / Via

Meanwhile, the original owner — Steffi Kischnick — told TV station SAT. 1 that she and her family were devastated. Edda helped her get through panic attacks, she told the station, and the pet was also loved by her three children.

The city employee’s actions were unusual and are under review, the Ahlen spokesperson told the Welt newspaper.

An eBay spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the sale took place on eBay Kleinanzeigen, a local classifieds site under the company’s umbrella. Pet sales are not allowed on the main eBay marketplace.

Kischnick, meanwhile, told the Welt that she knew there was nothing she could do about the seizure, and knows Edda is now in good hands. For her part, Jordan told SAT. 1 that once Edda adjusts, she’d like the pug’s former family to come for a visit.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.