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.