France: Approval of the bill to combat animal abuse

Francia: Aprobación de la proposición de ley para combatir el maltrato animal

The animal protection law provides for several historic advances for animal welfare.

A group of deputies presented this bill on the fight against animal abuse on December 14, 2020.The government initiated the expedited procedure on December 14, 2020.

The text was adopted in the first reading, with modifications, by the National Assembly on January 29, 2021, then by the Senate on September 30, 2021.
On November 16, 2021, the National Assembly approved the text drawn up by the commission. on October 21, 2021.
On November 18, 2021, the Senate definitively adopted the bill, suggesting that this law will now be set in stone with its publication in the Official Gazette.  

"The animal condition is not a fad of urban people in need of nature nor a passing fad, but a subject to which a growing number of French are sensitive and which, henceforth, is irreversibly political", co-author of the proposition Lawyer Loïc Dombreval (LREM), a veterinarian by profession.

69% of the French believe that politicians do not defend animals well enough. In this context, this bill seems to be a necessity in today's society.

A complicated legislative course

Initially, the chances of approving this bill seemed almost nil, so there were many points of disagreement between deputies and senators.
In the end, the text presents a version sometimes emptied of its substance made of concessions.

Historical advances
Fight against the abandonment of pets

Future pet owners must sign a certificate of knowledge by the text to limit impulsive purchases and avoid abandonment.
In addition, there is a 7-day reflection period between a new certificate issuance and the animals' purchase or donations.

Amendments have also been voted to declare a ban on the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores starting in 2024. Although, abandoned dogs and cats could be put up for adoption in pet stores, in association with shelters.
Additionally, the prohibition of offers for the sale of pets on the Internet is foreseen, with a possible exemption under several conditions: the sites must create a dedicated section, control and tag each advertisement. Online sale is only allowed for breeders and pet stores.
The text requires that it is forbidden to sell or give pets to minors without parental consent.

In the new law, we find the mandatory identification of all domestic cats and dogs since currently it only targets dogs born after January 6, 1999 and cats born after January 1, 2012.
The provisions on kennels are also revised. Municipalities may entrust this mission to associations that have a shelter.
The mayor's obligation to sterilize feral cats in his municipality, provided for in the initial text, has been replaced by a five-year experiment of coordinated action against the proliferation of stray cats by the State and local communities.
The text also provides for raising awareness about animals in the teaching of moral and civic education in schools.

Strengthen sanctions against the mistreatment of domestic animals. 

The penal code already punishes serious mistreatment or acts of cruelty towards a domestic animal, but this new law wants to toughen the penalties. They will go from 2 years in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros to 5 years in prison and 75,000 euros in the event of the death of the animal.
Exceptions are made for local traditions (bullfighting in particular).

The judge may order an awareness course on preventing and combating animal abuse as an alternative or additional sentence to the prison sentence.

The new provisions also improve the punishment of zoophilia and zoopornography in domestic animals.

Towards the end of the wild animals in travelling circuses and dolphinariums.

Starting in 2028, the detention and show of wild animals in travelling circuses will be prohibited, and from 2023, the acquisition and reproduction of these animals as well. Reception solutions must be offered for the collection of the animals.
Dolphin and killer whale shows will be banned from 2026. Their detention and breeding in captivity will end, except in the framework of scientific research programs or in shelters or sanctuaries for wild animals in captivity.

Animal shows are prohibited in discos or private parties. Starting in 2023, there will no longer be wild animals on television shows.

The activity of trainers of bears and wolves will also be prohibited.

Ultimately, this law ends American mink farms and other wild animals for their fur.

Nothing about hunting, bullfighting, and the factory farm.

While this law represents a great consideration for the sensitivity of animals, it lacks consideration for the vast majority of animals, especially those that are hunted or raised for consumption.
Although the bill ended its parliamentary run with near unanimity, this was accomplished by setting aside several divisive issues. The bill does not address animal abuse as a whole, criticized deputies Olivier Falorni and Bastien Lachaud.

"The day will inevitably come when, in this hemicycle, we will be able to debate sensitive issues, such as certain hunting practices, such as bullfighting, and certain intensive breeding practices", Deputy Dombreval wants to believe.

This progress should lead to other decisions that should take into account the welfare of ALL animals!
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