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ANIMAL WELFARE

France introduces new law to crack down on ‘impulse buying’ of pets

Anyone who wants to buy a cat or dog in France will now have to sign a document confirming they understand the responsibility they are about to take on, in an attempt to prevent 'impulse purchase' of pets who are later abandoned.

France introduces new law to crack down on 'impulse buying' of pets
(Photo: Brandon Bell / Getty Images via AFP)

Nearly 100,000 animals are abandoned in France every year, and the cost of living crisis has prompted fears that figure may rise.

A law passed in November 2021 to cut down on the number of pet abandonments came into effect this week when it was published in France’s Journal Officiel, at the start of the summer period when, traditionally, the number of pets dumped by their owners rises. 

Abandoning a pet is punishable by law. Penalties have been increased to a maximum of three years in prison and a €45,000 fine, compared to two years in prison and a €30,000 fine previously.

But the new law also provides for the introduction of a ‘certificate of commitment’ and better supervision of online ads in order to put an end to impulse purchases of pets, notably cats, dogs and horses.

The law introduces would-be owners to sign a “certificate of commitment and knowledge”, which will now be issued before any animal can be purchased or adopted. This certificate will specify the needs of the animal and commit the new owner to respect them.

There is also a new seven-day “cooling-off” period before the owner can take possession of the animal, to avoid impulse pet purchases.

A foster contract is also being created for foster families who take care of a pet for a short period. This contract must include information on “the physiological, behavioural and medical needs of the entrusted animal”, as well contact details of the owners and the duration of the placement.

Online adoption adverts will have to follow stricter rules. “Offers must be presented in a specific section which must include awareness and information messages relating to the act of acquiring an animal,” a press release from the Ministry of Agriculture stated. 

And they will give rise to a systematic verification, before publication, in order to ensure “the validity of the registration of the animal on the national identification file”. Only “verified adverts” can be posted.

For horses, the decree is more precise and stipulates that “any person holding a horse for purposes other than professional … must attest to their knowledge of the needs of the animal and the responsibilities which are incumbent upon them”. 

By signing the certificate of commitment, the future owner must bear in mind “the financial and logistical implications” and be able to guarantee the well-being of the animal.

Additional obligations, in addition to physiological and medical needs, relate to the traceability and identification of the horse. 

Member comments

  1. These initiatives mean nothing without effective enforcement. France already has some ‘good in theory’ laws in place to prevent abandonment and uncontrolled breeding of animals but these have had precisely zero impact due to the complete lack of enforcement of existing laws. Whilst I salute any effort to improve the lot of animals I remain pessimistic about this particular one.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Is it true that the French don’t like to talk about money?

How much do you make? Did you get a pay rise? What's the value of your house? These might seem normal questions for foreigners, but in France many people will consider them rude - as French writer Ilana Levy explains.

Is it true that the French don't like to talk about money?

When you have just met someone and want to learn more about them, it’s normal to ask questions about their life and situation – but in France there is one subject that is somewhat taboo; money.

If the French will easily complain about how much they spent on gas or groceries or how much their rent is, they will rarely tell the exact price they pay. Instead, they prefer talking about their mental health or giving details about their sexual encounters. 

This particular French habit is said to come from both Catholicism and peasant culture. The Bible tells us that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” and the Church pushed people to believe money should be taboo. After all, greed is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. 

In addition is the peasant theory; that you should hide your money otherwise people will get jealous and steal from you.

Whatever the reason, the French have a long history of keeping their income a secret. 

Pay packets

Around the world, many people don’t mind sharing their salary but in France, it definitely is considered presumptuous.

I asked a few French people how they feel about money.  “I would feel ashamed to tell someone how much money I make, especially if it is less than them,” said Alexia, a Parisian salesperson, told me.

“Moreover, some people are afraid to negotiate their salary and might end up earning less than their colleagues doing the same job. This is mainly why I would not talk about money at work,” she said. 

There is a real sense of prejudice because “people believe your salary reflects your education”, and “you would want to earn more than your friends, just for the pride,” explained Eleonore, a waitress.

Money is a private matter, she added, saying: “French people tend to deduce what you can and can’t have depending on how much you make a year, I would not want someone intruding on my privacy.”

Unsophisiticated

One thing French people hate more than anything is showing off. There is a real contempt for the ‘nouveau riche‘, someone coming from the middle class whose fortune is newly acquired and considered unsophisticated.

Showing you are wealthy is not considered classy, the French tend to still associate money with refinement.

This is personified in ex president Nicolas Sarkozy, a man who enjoyed wealth and luxury and was nicknamed the ‘bling-bling president’ by French people who considered his enthusiasm for money unsophisticated.

Tense 

Money is a real issue for the French, according to a January 2022 survey by Harris Interactive, money has already been the subject of disputes for 50 percent of them, most often within couples.

The same survey reveals that only 44 percent of people know the income of at least one of their friends, and they rather not ask the question. 

A generational issue? 

So is the taboo around money changing with the generations?

In my experience people in their 20s – like me – still consider it rude to show off their wealth, especially with the energy and financial crisis going on, but they are not afraid of discussing salaries.

“I don’t mind telling someone how much I make, I know it is not much, but we all have money issues,’ Etan told me. However, he added: “My parents would never tell me if they have issues.” 

But things are changing – the Church is not as influential as in the past, and people are not hiding their money under their mattress anymore. Moreover, the Covid crisis also seems to have encouraged the French to negotiate their salary: “I would never have negotiated my salary if I did not know that they needed people. It made me feel more confident about my income,” added Ethan.

 

Overall, the older generation still considers money a taboo in France, mainly because it is a tradition. The younger generation seems more open to discussing income – perhaps due to contact with other cultures and foreign people.

Ilana Levy is a bilingual freelance journalist living in Paris.

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