The French Senate is to debate today (September 30) a new animal mistreatment law that includes clauses that aim to end the use of wild animals in circuses and aquarium shows, and reduce animal abandonment, which reached a record high this summer.
Pets can be sold online and in pet shops but why are so many animals later abandoned in France?
Currently, people selling pets have certain responsibilities, in that they must obtain a veterinary certificate and a certificate of transfer (attestation de cession).
But there is currently no certificate that ensures the ability of the future owner to care for the animal.
Legally, dogs and cats are now required to have their pet identified by microchip or tattoo.
Microchipping or tattoo identification allows pets to be traced should they become lost, as it allows shelters and veterinary surgeries to scan and identify the owner.
They can then alert the owner that their lost pet has been found, or - where necessary - investigate how the pet came to be lost or abandoned.
Microchips are the most common form of identification to be offered by vets in France today, and are the only form of ID accepted if you wish to travel with your pet.
Pet identification microchips are around the size of a grain of rice, and are inserted under the skin of an animal in the neck or between the shoulder blades. Each microchip contains a code with 15 numbers that can be identified by an electric reader.
Microchips are bio-compatible, non-magnetic, non-electric, and do not affect the health of animals.
Microchips must be inserted by a registered vet. The procedure costs around €40-€70 depending on the veterinary practice owners choose to use.
More details on microchipping and identification rules in France can be found on the dedicated website, Identifier-Mon-Animal.fr.
Is pet ownership popular in France?
Yes. Collectively, the public owns nine million pet dogs and 15 million cats.
This compares to an estimated 9.6 million dogs, and 10.7 million cats among pet owners in the UK, another pet-loving nation.
Why are there so many abandonments in France?
Animal abandonment has long been a problem in France.
A 2019 campaign by animal protection association la Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis highlighted that more than 100,000 dogs and cats are abandoned in France each year, the highest level in Europe.
That level is considerably higher now; the SPA said in July that abandonment has worsened in the past 18 months because of Covid-19
The worst levels of abandonment take place over the summer, when people go on holiday and are unable or unwilling to find someone to take care of their pet.
Reha Hutin, president of la Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis, told The Connexion: “The hard truth is that 100,000 animals in France are dumped each year because people are unwilling to spend some time finding someone to look after their pet.
“It gets worse in summer as each year 60,000 pets are dumped, just so people can head off on holiday without a problem.”
Muriel Arnal, president of the animal welfare association One Voice, told news source 20 Minutes: “When people abandon an animal, it is because they have financial problems or they took on the animal reluctantly.
“We must improve education, and recommend that people leave their pets at a refuge if they feel overwhelmed, rather than abandoning them in the countryside.
“We must attack the causes of the problem, rather than the consequences. Once we’re seeing the consequences, it is too late. When someone abandons an animal, they rarely do it happily. It indicates that they have made a mistake, and now realise just how much work it represents.
“But the real question is how can we ensure that this realisation happens before or at the moment of purchase, and not at the moment of abandonment?”
Ms Arnal said that the cost of looking after an animal was not only financial, and that even well-off households need to be aware of the time, space, constraints and other responsibilities of taking care of a pet.
She said: “In France, we still believe the myth of a kitten that is given as a Christmas present, without thinking that we will then need to take care of it for the next 13 years. There is a real lack of education and a lack of understanding of the responsibility that an animal represents.”