Soup kitchens for dogs opens in Berlin

BERLIN Fri Oct 31, 2008 1:19pm EDT

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BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - A soup kitchen exclusively for dogs has opened its doors in Berlin providing pets of the homeless and unemployed with a free meal, the director of the establishment said on Friday.

Despite the looming financial crisis, director Claudia Hollm dismissed criticism that it may be more sensible to collect money for humans than for dogs.

"Nowadays people underestimate dogs. They are incredibly important for those who lack social contact with other humans," Hollm told Reuters.

"Making sure dogs don't go hungry is just as important as making sure that people don't starve," she added.

Hollm, and her company "Animal Board," gets sponsorship from companies, including animal food manufacturers.

One woman who uses the free service said she had two dogs, four cats, a rabbit and some guinea pigs.

"Without this animal bread line, I'd probably starve to death," the 20-year old told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

The opening of the soup kitchen follows last month's launch of a new bus service in Berlin for dogs, which shuttles their furry friends to a luxury dog day-care center.

(Reporting by Josie Cox, editing by Paul Casciato)