A man in Denmark was so devastated when authorities seized and euthanized his dog that he took his own life.
Dan, whose last name has not been disclosed, was 27 years old.
Dan was given just eight days to prove that his dog Zanto was not one of the breeds banned in Denmark, and under Danish law, the burden to prove dog breed is placed upon owners. When he was unable to do so, authorities removed Zanto and arranged for him to be killed. Soon after Zanto was taken, Dan was reported to have overdosed on pain medication.
His dog, Zanto, had been euthanized in adherence with Denmark’s Breed Specific Legislation on Pit Bulls. Danish legislation titled the "Dog Act" also dictates that police are required to euthanize dogs that “savage” a person or another dog, but Zanto hadn’t attacked anyone. He was simply considered an illegal breed.
The Dog Act bans the ownership and breeding of 13 breeds of dogs, including the Pitt Bull Terrier, Kangal, South Russian Shepherd Dog and American Bulldog. Some breeds have been illegal since 1991, but legislation in 2010 brought the number to 13.
On April 21, a Danish blog titled “Stephanie Karma” paid tribute to Dan and his dog Zanto.
“I'm crazy frustrated, and that is why I made the decision to dedicate the day today for one special man,” the blog read. “Namely Dan who took his own life after the police came and took his dog.”
Foreningen Fair Dog Fan, a Facebook page connected to Fair Dog, an association committed to dogs and dog owners, also dedicated their Facebook page to “Dan, his family, friends, and not least Zanto” on April 20.
“This is truly tragic. I hope and pray that the laws of [Denmark] will change,” commented one user on the page.
There have been efforts to repeal Denmark’s ban on certain dog breeds, including a Change.com petition.
A number of organizations, including the Animal Law Coalition, have cited studies reporting that the dog breed ban has not decreased the number of dog bites in the country.
“Denmark is moving in the opposite direction from other European Union countries that have discovered breed discrimination does not work to prevent or reduce dog bite incidents,” says the ALC on its website.
While the Dog Act was upheld in 2014, the outpouring of support and outrage on behalf of Dan may inspire more campaigns to repeal the legislation.