France imposes new rules to stop rash pet purchases and avoid neglect

New owners are now required to sign a certificate or contract to show that they fully understand the responsibilities, costs, requirements and logistics of owning a pet

A couple, with a woman holding a dog and a man signing a piece of paper
People who buy or adopt pets will have to sign a contract or certificate to show they understand the responsibilities, in a bid to cut impulsive buys
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New rules to stop impulsive pet purchases come into force in France today.

They follow the revelation that, while pets are popular - 50% of people in France own one, 100,000 animals are abandoned in the country each year.

A decree defining new rules surrounding the purchase of a pet was published today (July 20), eight months after parliament voted for a law against animal mistreatment.

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

To avoid hasty purchases and ensure that prospective owners understand the responsibilities that pet ownership entails, they now need to sign a certificat d'engagement et de connaissance (certificate of commitment and awareness).

This will apply to the purchase or acquisition of a horse (for non-professional reasons), a dog or a cat, whether money is exchanged or not.

The certificate details animal needs and obligations that their owner should respect as well as the logistical and financial implications of the purchase.

A ‘welcome contract’ for foster families when pets are rehomed

In the case of pets being rehomed – including for cats, dogs, or hamsters – a contrat d'accueil (welcome contract) needs to be signed by the foster family and any shelter or association that is coordinating the placement.

Any online offers will also have to include details of the contract in a separate section of the listing, which will include details of the responsibilities owners need to understand.

Pet adverts and listings will also need to be verified.

In a statement, the Ministry of Agriculture said: “Advertisements for pets] will be subject to verification, in particular the validity of the animal's registration in the national identification file, and will bear the words 'verified advertisement' once they are checked.”

The new rules are part of the animal mistreatment law, which aims to “fight against animal abuse and strengthen the bond between animals and humans”.

It was voted for on November 20, 2021. It provides for a gradual ban on wild animals in circuses and dolphinariums, an end to the sale of puppies and kittens in pet shops by 2024, better supervision of the sale of animals online, and harsher penalties for abuse or abandonment.

More of these laws will gradually come into force between October 2022 and July 2023.

100,000 pets are abandoned each year in France

It comes after a shock campaign in 2019 by animal welfare association the Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis showed that more than 100,000 pets are abandoned each year in France.

Read more: France record for abandoned pets, shows shock campaign

At the time, Reha Hutin, president of the charity told The Connexion: “The hard truth is that 100,000 animals in France are dumped because people are unwilling to spend some time finding someone to look after their pet.

“It gets worse in summer, when 60,000 pets are dumped, just so people can head off on holiday.”

In July 2021, the government launched a €20m action plan to combat animal abandonment, which rose significantly last year in part due to the Covid lockdown, the government said.

The money is intended to help shelters – which are often at capacity – to expand and offer more support to deal with abandonment and mistreatment.

This year (2022), rescue rates in shelters have dropped by 4%, putting them under yet more pressure, as fewer people choose to adopt and more people surrender their animals to shelters due to rising costs and record inflation.

Animal suffering and welfare also became a major topic in the recent presidential election campaign.

Read more: Animal suffering becomes a key presidential election topic in France

People who abandon animals into the wild will now be punished by a prison term of three years rather than two as well as fines of up to €30,000.

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