Cross-Channel canine contrasts

woman at restaurant table with coffee and dog

Dr Tim Blakemore, a former senior law lecturer at the University of Northampton who now lives in France, looks at British and French attitudes to man’s best friend

The British are renowned as a nation of dog lovers, but are the French more so, perhaps even to a fault?

In July, a Connexion article ‘Pets are one of the family’ reported a survey saying there were 7.3million dogs in French households with 60% of them regarded as a “member of the family”. Yet, in August, Reha Mutin of animal charity Fondation 30 millions d’amis told Samantha David that the French abandoned 60,000 animals every year.

How do the British compare? Undoubtedly dogs are viewed as part of the family in many cases. You may even have heard the expression “fur babies”, although whether that makes you cringe or smile will depend on the degree of your own enthusiasm. Sadly, the statistics for abandoned dogs seem to tally with the French situation, according to the Dogs Trust.

There are also similarities in the legal position. In England and Wales the Animal Welfare Act of 2007 replaced several pieces of old law on cruelty to animals and for the first time imposed a positive duty of care on pet ...

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