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Deadline looms for dog owners to take courses

As spring swings into full gear so are dog-handling courses in Switzerland, where the law requires 40,000 dog owners to take a training class before the end of August.

The transition period for the animal protection law passed two years ago is coming to an end.

Since September 2008, all first-time dog owners have had to take a written and practical course on the basics of dog ownership.

Those who purchased their dogs between September 1, 2008 and August 31, 2009 were given a grace period to complete the training. The Federal Veterinary Office said on Thursday that some 40,000 dog owners fall into that category.

Starting in September 2010, cantonal authorities can ask pet owners for documentation proving they have taken the proper courses, and levy fines on those who have not.

So far some 5,500 dog owners have taken a written course and another 7,500 have taken a practical component. About 1,100 trainers around the country offer instruction.

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