Animal Welfare Act (Germany)

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Basic data
Title: Animal Welfare Act
Abbreviation: TierSchG
Type: Federal law
Scope: Federal Republic of Germany
Legal matter: Special administrative law , animal welfare law
References : 7833-3
Original version from: July 24, 1972
( BGBl. I p. 1277 )
Entry into force on: 1st October 1972
New announcement from: May 18, 2006
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 1206 ,
ber.p. 1313 )
Last change by: Art. 280 VO of June 19, 2020
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 1328, 1360 )
Effective date of the
last change:
June 27, 2020
(Art. 361 of June 19, 2020)
Please note the note on the applicable legal version.

The Animal Welfare Act (TierSchG) in Germany was enacted as a law for the purpose of “protecting the life and well-being of humans from the responsibility of humans for animals as fellow creatures” ( § 1 sentence 1 ). The principle of the Animal Welfare Act is: “Nobody may inflict pain, suffering or harm on an animal without a reasonable reason” ( Section 1, sentence 2 ).

The Animal Welfare Act is constitutionally based today on the state objective of animal welfare according to Article 20a of the Basic Law . It includes the essential regulations on keeping animals , killing animals ( slaughter ), interventions and experiments on animals as well as numerous regulations on breeding and trading in animals. The law is primarily designed in terms of administrative law , so that the keeping of farm animals is sometimes subject to permission.


§ 1 Principle: “The purpose of this law is to protect the life and well-being of humans out of the responsibility of humans for animals as fellow creatures. Nobody should inflict pain, suffering or harm on an animal without a reasonable cause. "

The "reasonable reason" in the sense of § 1 sentence 2 is a central concept of the Animal Welfare Act. Reference is made to it for example during slaughter or animal experiments . It is present "if it is to be recognized as valid, insightful and has an interest worthy of protection and if under the specific circumstances it outweighs the animal's interest in its integrity and well-being". A synonym for it can be understandable.

Sections 2 and 3 deal with the keeping and use of animals by humans and other persons.

Sections 4 - 4b deal with the killing of vertebrates - including slaughter.

Sections 5 to 6a regulate operations on animals, in particular through anesthesia (Section 5) and complete or partial amputation of body parts ( cropping ) or complete or partial removal or destruction of organs or tissues in vertebrates (Section 6).

Animal experiments are regulated in §§ 7 to 9.

The animal welfare officer is dealt with in Section 10 .

In § 11 to 11c breeding, sale, keeping and trade are regulated - also for experiments and with torture breeding (§ 11b).

Section 12 regulates the trade and the keeping of animals that have been harmed by acts that violate animal welfare.

Sections 13 to 13b contain other provisions for the protection of animals, in particular authorizations to issue statutory ordinances such as so-called cat protection ordinances .

Sections 14 to 16j regulate the implementation including the organization and measures of the authorities.

Sections 17 to 20a determine penalties and fines and authorize the prosecuting authorities to move in affected animals and to impose bans on keeping and caring for animals.


Animal Welfare Act of November 24, 1933

The first German animal protection law ( Reichstierschutzgesetz ) was passed on November 24, 1933. From it, essential aspects later flowed into the TierSchG. Previously, only a few criminal offenses were defined in the Reich Criminal Code of 1871. Though ideologically propagated, animal welfare was subordinated to economic goals under National Socialism .

A new attempt was made in 1972 after the public became more sensitive, among other things, through publications by Horst Stern . In May 2002, animal welfare was also included in the Basic Law to give it more weight. An amendment to the Animal Welfare Act came into force on July 13, 2013, including provisions on the guidelines for laboratory animals, the prohibition of sexual abuse ( zoophilia ), the prohibition of torture breeding and the keeping of livestock.


Animal rights activists and animal rights activists continue to criticize the Animal Welfare Act after the planned reform, saying that there is no reasonable reason for inflicting pain or even killing animals. On the face of it, the reform appears to have contributed to improvements, but more in-depth reviews have shown that the opposite is being achieved in some cases. Torture breeding for domestic and factory farming is still the order of the day, as are amputations of curly tails, beak tips or, for example, toe joints, which are carried out without anesthesia. After the ban on wild animals in circuses was planned, it was now avoided that significant suffering in the animals must be proven and there must be no other way of reducing the suffering of the animals to an "acceptable level". Furthermore, animal experiments that are carried out for educational purposes do not have to be approved by an ethics committee, as prescribed by the EU Animal Experiments Directive, only registration is required. In Berlin, for example, this affects 1.3% of all animal experiments. Animal experiments for scientific purposes and for organ removal must, however, be approved by the Animal Experiments Commission .


  • Hansjoachim Hackbarth , Annekatrin Weilert: Animal protection law. Practice-oriented guide , 3rd edition, Rehm, Heidelberg 2019, ISBN 978-3-8073-2641-2 .
  • Almuth Hirth, Christoph Maisack, Johanna Moritz: Animal Welfare Act. Comment . 3rd edition, Verlag Franz Vahlen, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-8006-3799-7 .
  • Cornelie Jäger : Animal Welfare Law. An introduction to practical application from an official veterinarian's point of view . 2nd edition, Richard Boorberg Verlag, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3-415-06257-3 .
  • Hans-Georg Kluge : State goal animal protection. At the crossroads between constitutional declamation and constitutional mandate to act . In: ZRP . 37th vol., 2004, pp. 10-14.
  • Albert Lorz, Ernst Metzger: Animal Welfare Act. Animal Welfare Act with general administrative regulation, Art. 20a GG as well as related laws, ordinances and legal acts of the European Union. Comment . 7th, revised edition. CH Beck, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-67997-1 .
  • Julius Ludwig Pfeiffer: The Animal Welfare Act of July 24, 1972. The history of German animal welfare law from 1950 to 1972 (= legal historical series; Bd. 294), Peter Lang. Frankfurt a. M. [u. a.] 2004, ISBN 978-3-631-52708-5 . ( Review )

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Albert Lorz, Ernst Metzger: Animal Protection Act - Comment. Munich, 6th edition 2008, § 1 Rn. 62.
  2. BayObLG , NuR 1994, 512.
  3. Simone Morawitz: Introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 1933. In: Domradio . November 24, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018 .
  4. ^ Daniel Jütte: Animal protection and National Socialism: The emergence and effects of the National Socialist Reich Animal Protection Act of 1933. (PDF; 379 kB) In: IDB Münster • Ber. Inst. Didaktik Biologie Suppl. 2 (2002). October 9, 2002, pp. 167-184 , archived from the original on December 27, 2013 ; accessed on November 24, 2018 .
  5. ^ Edeltraud Klueting: The legal regulations of the National Socialist Reich government for animal welfare, nature conservation and environmental protection . In: Joachim Radkau, Frank Uekötter (Ed.): Nature conservation and National Socialism. Frankfurt / New York (Campus Verlag) 2003, p. 104f.
  6. § 3 sentence 1 no. 13 TierSchG, but not so named there
  7. § 11b TierSchG, but not mentioned there
  8. ^ Animal Welfare Law Reform: A Trojan Horse. Albert Schweitzer Foundation for Our Environment, May 25, 2012, accessed on November 24, 2018 .
  9. Laboratory animal registration 2017. State Office for Health and Social Affairs Berlin , October 23, 2018, accessed on November 24, 2018 .