Pets are so cute and friendly. There is a recognised benefit to owning a pet – it simply makes you a happier person. Children love to look after and play with animals. The Dutch love their pets too ! On a daily basis, we see dogs happily being moved around the city in baskets of their owner’s bike. Expats bringing their pets here or thinking of acquiring a pet need to be aware of how things work in The Netherlands. It is not complicated but needs a minimum of preparation.
The Dog Tax
All dogs are subject to a tax. Dog tax (Hondenbelasting) is charged annually and is calculated on the number of dogs in each household. Even though there is no dog licensing, this is a way for the municipality to know who owns dogs and how many. The cost of the dog tax is lower for a second household dog and so on. You must declare the dog within 14 days of taking ownership and present their National Identification Number. Cats are not taxed and do not need to be declared. The tax amount is different from town to town and the local municipality sets the rate. The dog tax in Amsterdam was abolished in 2016, but it still exists in many municipalities across the country.
Dogs Lost and Found
Pets do escape or get lost. The Amsterdam Animal pound/refuge (dierenopvangcentrum/dierenasiel) often is where they end up. The Amsterdam one is at Ookmeerweg 271, 1067 SP Amsterdam or you can see more information on their website. All vets, animal ambulances and animal refuges have a microchip reader. Take the found animal to any of these organisations and they know what to do in order to find the owner. There is also a Dutch Pet Database, Nederlandse Databank Gezelschapsdieren(NDG). You should always register your animal here. A similar service operates Europetnet throughout Europe. Pet owners need to register the animal’s microchip number with the Europetnet database. This is useful if travelling on holiday with pets.
Also, Dog Search NL will be useful if your dog goes missing.
A central database of chip numbers is here.
Pets on Public Transport
If travelling with a dog on a train it must be on a leash and you need to buy a dog day ticket. Guide dogs for the visually impaired can travel free of charge on all public transport. Other pets travel free if they are in transport carriers or sit on your lap and do not take a seat. There are restrictions for a guide dog or assistance dog on long distance trains.
More on dogs for the blind in NL:
- European Blind Union provide information on Guide dogs in the Netherlands
- The Dutch Guide Dog Association (in Dutch)
Further information from the NS
Dog Fouling Rules
If you are taking your dogs for a walk, there is a good chance it will do ‘its business’ at some point. You need prepare yourself for that. You will get a fine for not having the appropriate equipment to ‘scoop the poop’ including:
- Paper bag
- Plastic bag
You will receive a fine for not clearing up your dog’s mess. It is extremely rare to see dog’s mess on the street of Amsterdam. It is good civility that does this. In comparison, the stress of Paris are like a minefield. Owning Pets in The Netherlands means cleaning up after them too. If there was zero issue with this, the fines would not exist. Some owners do not clear up and so will hopefully be fined.
Ownership of ‘Dangerous’ Dogs
In 2008 a change in the rules means that pit bull terriers, pit bull cross breeds and Rottweilers are no longer banned in the Netherlands. The dog’s personality will be tested. It the results show a tendency for aggressiveness the dog will be destroyed. Not all breeds will fall into this. It might also be done if the dog bites a human.
Contacts and associations for pets.
Dierenbescherming is the Dutch society for the protection of animals. It has zero government finance. It works to protect and re-home animals. There are local Direnbescherming branches across Noord-Holland.
World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)has the aim of ending animal cruelty. It is based in The Hague and is an international organisation The address is :Louis Couperusplein 2, 2514 HP Den Haag
Tel: 070 314 2800
Animals Ambulance. If you find an injured animal or urgent treatments is needed, you can call the animal ambulances. The number is 020 62 62 121
De Poezenboot is on Singel in central Amsterdam. You have probably seen the boat. It is a shelter for stray and abandoned cats.
Animal Refuge Centre Amsterdam is a huge animal refuge centre in Amsterdam.
For pet services such as vets, dog walking etc, please see our services section for that.
The animal Police number is 144