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Thousands of animals await adoption in France after Covid lockdowns

Shelters say they can not take any more pets as they are flooded with post Covid lockdown abandonments

There are 7,000 pets waiting for a new owner in French animal shelters, which find themselves overwhelmed Pic: Ann Tyurina / Shutterstock

Almost all of France’s animal shelters have noticed a marked increase in the number of pets being given to them since Covid restrictions eased. 

The Société protectrice des animaux (SPA), one of France’s leading animal protection associations, has stated that it has around 7,000 animals waiting to be adopted across 62 shelters. 

Last year saw 45,000 animals abandoned to the SPA, and 40,142 adoptions, the organisation said, adding that at the moment it is “unable to welcome new animals despite many requests.”

In addition to the animals abandoned in 2021, there will be pets that have been waiting for a new owner for several years.

New animal welfare law aims to make pet owners more responsible

A new law, voted in at the end of last year, aims to ease some of this in the future. It includes the need for new pet owners to sign a certificate confirming they understand the responsibilities involved plus there will be harsher punishments for abandonment and cruelty.

Read more: France’s new animal welfare law passes: What will it change for pets?

Read more: French animal protection law ‘inspired’ by UK

“The first reflex for the acquisition of a pet should be adoption from a shelter in order to combat abandonment and remind owners of their responsibilities,” said Jacques-Charles Fombonne, the SPA’s president.

As well as cats and dogs, the number of reptiles and rodents in shelters has increased by 56% since 2020.

“These impulse buy animals are available for purchase on the internet and in shops and are in the very incarnation of the fight against seeing animals as toys,” said the SPA, which is calling for a law banning the sale of such creatures in pet shops.

Shelters across France now find themselves overpopulated, with Sandrine Nicolas from the Fondation Assistance aux Animaux in Villevaudé (Seine-et-Marne) saying that: “Confronted with difficulties when returning to work, people are not necessarily working to resolve their problems and are instead resorting to the ease of abandoning [their pet].”

“People are telling us, sincerely, that they ‘can’t afford the care, the bills, the operations etc.’”

Overwhelmed shelters are therefore calling on people who are considering adopting a pet to get in touch as soon as possible.

“Our shelters are open so you must come, don’t hesitate, there are lots of lovely stories waiting to begin,” said the SPA’s Sandrine Weltman.

The SPA’s animal protection service has also noted a rise in instances of mistreatment in recent months, with the number of investigations carried out increasing by 17% in 2021 when compared to 2020.

The organisation was also involved in rescuing 131% more maltreated animals in 2021 than in 2020.

Some positive news is that the number of horses being adopted has nearly doubled since 2019 to 154. At the Grand refuge de Pervenchères in Orne, there are 61 horses, donkeys and ponies waiting for a new owner.

France "European champion of animal abandonment" 

Fondation 30 millions d'Amis unveiled in 2019 a new shock campaign to alert the French to the fate of their little furry companions. 

The video shows people abandoning their pets while singing the famous Queen hit "We Are The Champions".

It estimated that every year over 100,000 animals are abandoned in France.

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