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Battle Against Pussy Galore

Wednesday 10 February 2021

The French government have intensified action against those who abandon their pets, with the identification of cats now made compulsory.

There are estimated to be around 15 million domestic cats in France, which, alongside Germany, is the highest number in any country in Europe and twice the number as there are in the UK.

According to the Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA), around 100,000 dogs and cats are abandoned each year, the highest figure in Europe.

Although in the event of loss, pets tattooed or equipped with a microchip have an 80% chance of being found, most cats are not identified because the rule only applies if a feline over 7 months old is sold or donated.

In the event of a donation or sale, the law stipulates that the expense is borne by the seller, with L212-10 of the Code Rural stating: 'Les chiens et chats, préalablement à leur cession, à titre gratuit ou onéreux, sont identifiés par un procédé agréé par le ministre chargé de l'agriculture mis en œuvre par les personnes qu'il habilite à cet effet. [...] L'identification est à la charge du cédant.'

In other words, until now, an individual who kept a litter of kittens was not required to identify them.

In order to combat abandonment, new regulations now require that cats born since 2012 must be identified by microchip or tattoo.

An owner of a cat under the age of 9 (born after 1 January 2012) that is not identified faces a fine of up to €750.

As a general rule, micro-chipping a cat costs between €45 and €70, while the price of a tattoo varies between €65 and €80.

Enforcement is also to be tightened. Today, only vets can carry out identification, but the government plans to extend this authorisation to field officers and municipal police officers.

In addition, the Minister of Agriculture wants to strengthen sanctions against owners who abandon their pets. Currently, they face fines of up to €30,000 and two years in prison, although few owners are convicted.

The government are also pondering a change in the law that abandoning a pet be considered an act of cruelty to an animal, punishable by three years in prison and a ban on the detention of an animal.

Animal groups have responded by stating that the new law does not go far enough; for more than a decade it is has been obligatory to identify a dog, but it is estimated that only one in ten are tagged. They consider that sterilisation should be introduced and more resources provided to the local councils. Most local councils simply do not have a chip reader that would enable them to identify a dog.

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