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France changes confinement rules to allow pet adoption

Thousands of animals in France could now be saved from euthanasia as the government changes Covid-19 confinement rules to allow people to adopt pets from local refuges.

12 April 2020
Animals may now be adopted from the SPA during confinement, under three specific conditions
By Hannah Thompson

From Thursday April 16, members of the public will be permitted to leave the house if the purpose of their journey is to pick up a pet from a local animal rescue shelter.

There are three conditions:

  • The animal must have been chosen and confirmed via an online form ahead of time
  • The adopters must have a confirmed appointment with the refuge to go to pick up the animal (which will be done with as little human contact as possible).
  • The adopters must come both with a special attestation form supplied by the refuge (confirming their adoption and appointment), and the usual attestation de sortie form per person, ticking the box reading “imperative family reason ("motif familial impérieux")”

The change in the rules comes from interior minister Christophe Castaner, after the president of animal charity SPA, Jacques-Charles Fombonne, warned earlier this week that thousands of animals risked euthanasia as animal shelters were becoming too full to manage due to confinement.

Read more: Pets in France risk euthanasia due to confinement laws

Animal shelters are still open despite the pandemic, with hundreds of animals still coming in each week. Yet, confinement rules meant that people were no longer able to go out to adopt pets as usual, meaning that there were animals coming into shelters run by organisations such as the SPA, but none going out. 

More than 3,500 animals are taken in by SPA animal shelters alone each month across France, and many smaller organisations also run refuges.

Mr Fombonne said: “We only have 300-400 places left. Very, very quickly, we will be full. When we can no longer welcome animals, the pounds will have to euthanise them because they will no longer be able to bring them to us [the SPA].”

Mr Fombonne called on the government to change the confinement rules to allow adoptions to continue.

The SPA has put in a series of precautions in place to maximise the safety of its staff, and ensure that adoptions will go ahead with minimal-to-no human contact.

People will now be able to choose and confirm a pet online on the SPA website and make a timed appointment beforehand so they will be the only visitors to the shelter at that time.

The chosen pet will then be handed over without any human contact. The rest of the details will then be finalised after the confinement period is over.

The SPA is calling the new adoption drive #AdoptionSolidaire, and says on its website: "Animals will not be the collateral damage of Covid-19."

(Photo: La-Spa.fr / Screenshot)

It has also emphasised that the adoptions are not temporary, and reminded would-be adopters that the act must be due to a "real desire to adopt a pet" and must be "a measured, conscious and responsible decision made by the whole family".

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