France to fight pet abandonment with new adoption rules

The government has proposed new rules on pet adoption and purchasing as more than 100,000 animals are abandoned in France each year

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New measures to fight pet abandonment - such as an owner certificate and online charter - have been proposed by the French government, as more than 100,000 domestic animals are abandoned every year.

Minister for Agriculture Julien Denormandie announced a summary of the government’s plans on Sunday December 20, in an interview with newspaper Le Parisien.

Measures include requiring a certificate for people adopting an animal, a ban on mobile sales (sales made outside of a home), and the creation of a pet adoption charter with online classified ads website Leboncoin.

Mr Denormandie said: “A pet is neither a consumable product nor a toy.”

More than 100,000 pets - mainly cats and dogs - are abandoned in France each year. In 2019, animal charity la Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis drew attention to the statistic with a hard-hitting video campaign, and awarded France the dubious honour of being “champion of Europe” for pet abandonment.

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

Mr Denormandie added: “More than 750,000 dogs and cats are officially sold or adopted every year in France, and we often see many of what we might call impulse buys.”

As part of plans to combat this the government plans to bring in “an obligatory educational certificate for all adopters and buyers”.

The document would explain the new owner’s responsibilities and lay out expectations for the proper care of their new pet, including healthcare needs, vaccinations, the need to let the pet go outside, and the financial cost of care.

The owner would need to read and agree to the parameters before taking the pet home.

The certificate would then also be signed by the place offering the animal for sale or adoption, such as a shelter, breeder, animal home or veterinary office.

The certificate is set to come into force in 2021.

Online charter

The government has also addressed the sale of animals on classified ads website Leboncoin, after animal welfare groups called for a ban.

Mr Denormandie stopped short of a total ban. He said: “Sales or adoptions of animals will continue to be permitted from specialist shelters, animal centres or fairs dedicated to the sale of animals.”

In contrast, “itinerant” sales and exchanges of animals through the website - where people meet outside or in a car park to exchange the animal, rather than going to a home, breeder or shelter - will be banned completely.

The platform will also be required to sign “a charter” on pet sales. This will aim to separate the sale of pets from that of simple “consumer goods”, and will require sellers to list certain details about the animal, such as age, ID method, identification number, and other key information.

The high rate of pet abandonment is a well-known issue in France.

In 2019, Loïc Dombreval, MP of the Alpes-Maritimes and president of the animal welfare group Condition Animale, submitted a 300-page report of 120 recommendations to then-Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and the Assemblée Nationale.

The recommendations included measures to make impulse buying illegal, and to help reduce animal cruelty - including a new “minimal knowledge certificate” and a ban on impulse buys.

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