Animal protection associations across France are celebrating an enormous step forward: police officers and gendarmes around the country are to be trained in how to deal with animal abuse and neglect cases.
This is the result of a convention signed by Gérald Darmanin, the Interior Minister, Marc Fesneau, the Agriculture Minister, and Guillaume Sanchez, the General Director of the SPA (La Société Protectrice des Animaux).
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Jacques-Charles Fombonne, the President of the SPA.
“Up until now in France, animal protection has been left to associations. The State has been very absent, meaning associations have not had enough power. They do not have the legal authority to remove animals, for example.”
“We only have our only authority. We can visit people and talk to them. Sometimes we can persuade them to give up animals they can’t care for. But we don’t have legal status or power to act. The government represents the whole population so they should protect animals too, and sometimes we need people with powers to help us protect them.”
Under the new convention, new investigators will be trained to enquire into cases of ill-treatment, illegal importation of animals, attacks on protected animals, as well as into smaller individual cases of animal abuse.
Initially the aim is to train 4,000 gendarmes and police officers, spread between the 500 police stations and 3500 brigades of gendarmes.
“They will know how to receive people and will understand animal protection law, which is quite complicated. The initial training will be e-learning for gendarmes, and the new police trainees will from now on all receive nine hours of training before they graduate. So very soon we will have a specially-trained officer in every police station in France.”
As well as legal training to understand what rights animals have, and how the law protects them, officers will also get practical training so that they understand what animals need, and what constitutes an act of abuse.
“Officers will not be expected to handle animals themselves. It will still be the job of professionals to actually catch aggressive dogs or frightened horses for example. Officers will be in attendance when required, in order to ensure the law is observed. They will be able to hand out fines to people who refuse to give up animals suspected of being abused, they will know how to advise the owner of a dangerous dog on muzzling it in public, for example. They will know what to do and who to call.“
“In the past, officers didn’t have the training to intervene, but we hope that in the near future all gendarmes and police officers across the country will have this training”