Why French government agreement marks historic day for animal welfare

Animal protection groups celebrate decision to ban sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores and the use of wild animals in travelling circuses (but not for seven years) and more

22 October 2021

Animal welfare groups have praised the ‘ambitious’ new law Pic: Ashley Swanson / Shutterstock

By Joanna York

MPs and senators agreed on the terms of a new animal welfare law yesterday (October 21), meaning improved safeguards for animals will soon be legalised in France.

These include:

-       a gradual ban on use of wild animals in circuses with a ban on breeding such animals coming into place in the next two years and a total ban on their use in travelling circuses in seven years

-       use of whales and dolphins in aquariums will be banned within five years

-       a ban on American mink farming and farming of other animals for their fur

-       a ban on selling puppies and kittens in pet stores from January 1, 2024 and on displaying animals in pet store windows

-       harsher penalties for people caught mistreating animals

-       new rules for people who wish to buy pets including the signature of a certificate

     stating that the new owner is aware of the responsibilities involved

-       more regulations for animal sales online

French animal welfare groups celebrate ‘historic day’

Animal welfare groups have responded positively to the news. 

La Fondation Brigitte Bardot said in a tweet: “It’s an historic day for animals in France!”

Convergence Animaux Politique said the law was “ambitious” and responded to a “significant number” of demands from NGOs.

However, some said that there was still work left to do. The Parti Animaliste said the new law was “historic” but “there still remains the fight against intensive farming, industrial fishing, hunting and bullfighting”.

Previous agreements of the decree have been delayed as senators on the right wanted to maintain rights for travelling circuses and aquariums to keep wild animals, dolphins and whales.

But yesterday Minister for Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, praised senators and MPs who “overcame their differences to make this agreement”.

She said: “Today is a big day because taking a stand for animal wellbeing is the mark of a society that is aware of its responsibility to nature.”

Ms Pompili said the next steps were to clarify support for professionals, such as circus owners and farmers, to help them implement the law, including financial aid.

Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted: “Animal wellbeing is a major concern for our citizens. I share the pride of all in parliament who have made this law possible.”

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