Agriculture minister Julien Denormandie outlined the plan during an interview with the Europe 1 radio station on Wednesday. It includes money to help shelters cope with increased demand, and tougher punishments for people guilty of abandoning their pets.
Every year, more than 100,000 cats and dogs are dumped by their owners, with 60 percent occurring during the summer as the French head off on holiday.
On n’adopte pas un animal par impulsion.
— Julien Denormandie (@J_Denormandie) July 21, 2021
€20 million to expand shelters
The first measure promised by the government is €20 million to help France’s 800 rescue centres to expand and to renovate. Part of the sum will go towards sterilising cats and dogs.
The Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA) welcomed 14 percent more pets into their shelters in July 2021 than in July 2019. This is partly down to the effect of the Covid lockdowns, when stray cats were not being sterilised, and “people didn’t properly think before buying their animals”, SPA president Jacques-Charles Fombonne told franceinfo.
Claire Brissard, manager of an SPA centre in the Yvelines département, said the shelter was “overloaded” with pets. “For dogs, it’s starting to get serious. For cats, it’s catastrophic,” she told franceinfo.
“During lockdown, the animal kept the person busy, and when they rediscovered the life they had before, they forgot about the animal.”
To discourage people from abandoning their pets, the government plans to increase penalties for offenders. The €30,000 fines will not change, but prison sentences will be extended from two to three years, and offenders will be banned from owning pets.
Every individual who wishes to adopt a pet will also be made to read a charter which explains the time and money necessary to properly take care of an animal. The objective is to reduce the number of impulsive decisions.
“I have four kids. I’m thinking about the times when you walk past little kittens or puppies,” Denormandie said. “And then, you know, one of your kids says, ‘It would be nice to take one home’. Sometimes, on impulse, you proceed to buy or adopt that animal. But you’re not thinking about all that it entails to be responsible for a pet.”
Poster campaigns will also be put up on the side of motorways, where most people abandon their pets during the summer.
According to the 30 millions d’amis foundation, there are currently between 50,000 and 80,000 pets living in shelters across France. The foundation campaigns against the problem using the hashtag #nonalabandon (No to Abandonment).