French minister: ‘Abandoning pets should be punished’

People in France who abandon their pets could soon be punished by law, after a French minister said he believed there should be a law against it.

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In an interview with news networks BMFTV and RMC this week, minister for agriculture Didier Guillaume answered the direct question by presenter Jean-Jacques Bourdin: “Should people who abandon an animal be punished by law?”

He said: “Yes. They should be...On the motorway, when they go on holiday...we don’t get a pet to have fun, and then when we go on holiday, abandon it."

He added: “All the people that I meet who love their animals, would not abandon them. They treat them well...I don’t want to stigmatise the huge majority of people who have pets who treat them well and love them. I have always had a dog at home, and it’s always been fine.”

But Mr Guillaume did not confirm that a specific law would be enacted at this time. He admitted: “[Abandoners] should be [punished]...[but] it isn’t my job to make this law.”

In France, abandoning animals is already technically “punished by law”, as it is considered an act of cruelty and mistreatment. It can be punished by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to €30,000.

Yet, it is difficult to catch people “red handed”, so the existing law has historically been difficult to enforce.

In June 2019, 240 MPs announced that they would be submitting a proposal for a new law that would “end wide scale abandonments”.

According to animal welfare charity, la Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis, France currently holds the record for the number of pets and animals abandoned in Europe, at 100,000 for the country alone. Of this, 60,000 are abandoned during the summer, as people go on holiday.

In summer this year, la Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis launched a shock campaign to raise awareness of the issue, with a video showing “ordinary people” abandoning their pets by the side of the road, in boxes, tied up in fields, or throwing them away down rubbish chutes.

The video was accompanied by the famous Queen song, We Are The Champions, in an ironic reference to France’s dubious European record, and the social media hashtag “#NonAlAbandon (No to Abandonment)”.

This video is currently only available to people watching from France. This video report from BFMTV, which shows part of the campaign, is available outside of France.

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