A local authority in Germany is facing criticism after it seized a family’s pet dog and sold it to cover unpaid taxes.

The pedigree pug named Edda was seized by officials in the Rhineland town of Ahlen last year after her owners failed to pay local taxes, including their dog tax.

In a highly unusual step, the local authority offered Edda for sale on eBay for €750 (£650) to recoup the money.

The full details of the case only emerged after the dog’s new owner sued the town authorities, claiming they had not made clear Edda had serious health issues including an eye problem that needed four operations.

Edda’s original owner, who has not been named, told the local Ahlener Tageblatt newspaper her three children aged between five and nine are still upset at the loss of their dog.

She admitted she owed unpaid dog taxes, but said: “What happened, that was absolutely not okay”.

Officials at first tried to seize her paraplegic husband’s wheelchair, she claimed, but backed off after she explained it was the property of a local association. The local authority has denied it attempted to seize the wheelchair.

“Mobility aids for the disabled are absolutely exempt from being seized as collateral, unlike pets,” Frank Merschhaus, a spokesman, said. “No enforcement officer would come up with the idea.”

He said the seizure of Edda was legal but added that the incident was under investigation. He desribed the decision to take the family pet by the officials involved as “unusual”.

Edda was bought by Michaela Jordan, a police officer who told German media she was suspicious at the low price but agreed to buy the dog after being assured she was healthy.

In an ironic twist, Ms Jordan says she has had to pay around €1,800 in vet bills for Edda and she is now suing the town to recover the money.

Edda’s original owner said she had to accept the seizure and sale were legal. “At least I know Edda is in good hands,” she said.

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