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Animal Welfare and Cultural Issues

France - Animal Welfare and Cultural Issues


The attitude towards animals in France is very similar to that in the UK and USA. Animal cruelty is not uncommon although there are laws in place to protect animals and punish those that hurt them. It is common to see small dogs being used as designer accessories in Paris, with designer collars and coats and some even get wheeled around the supermarket in the trolley. In the countryside dogs are often seen as working animals and those who use them to hunt will often leave them almost starving in order to ensure that they will work better.

Cats are often seen as self-sufficient creatures and these are not often treated as indoor pets. Many areas have a problem with stray cats and this has gone unaddressed in most regions. Most pet shelters will take cats if you find them but as there are so many it is often the case that they are put to sleep so people are encouraged to take them in where possible. In some rural areas they will put out poison for cats or shoot them rather than try to rehome them.

France does have a large number of animal charities including the Société Protectrice des Animaux which has been in operation for more than 150 years and has nearly 60 kennels housing a wide variety of animals. They also offer a range of free veterinary services for abandoned animals and help those who cannot afford veterinary care. This organisation is approved by the state and deals with more than 700 complaints of animal cruelty each year. Most areas also have several smaller charities which offer similar services. Many of these are staffed by volunteers and are funded by donations.

Domestic pets such as cats and dogs are protected in France under European laws. The European Union has put together the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. This convention states that no person is permitted to cause a pet any unnecessary injury, pain or suffering and no-one is permitted to abandon an animal. Animals which reside on farms are protected in the European Union by a different set of laws set down by the European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Farming Purposes. This convention, along with several others, is designed to protect the farm animal for the entirety of its life on the farm and even up to the point of slaughter. Battery cages for hens are not permitted; veal and gestation crates are also outlawed.

If you are concerned that an animal in France is being mistreated then you can contact the local police or your local animal shelter for further assistance. They will be able to investigate and the details of the complaint are then passed to the state prosecutor who will make the decision on whether to commence legal proceedings. If you feel that the matter has not been fully investigated you can write yourself to the State prosecutor at the regional court with all the details and they may be able to investigate further.

Those who are convicted of cruelty to animals face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to €30,000, which demonstrates how seriously the French legal system takes such crimes.

There are a number of laws regarding animal care and welfare. Many areas now have regulations about clearing up when pets foul in the streets. Those who do not comply face fines. There are also regulations about the types of dogs that can be kept and some breeds which are considered to be dangerous are either not permitted in France or are expected to be very carefully controlled.

Conducting tests on animals for the purposes of cosmetics is now illegal throughout Europe although France tried to fight this ruling as it is home to some of the world’s biggest cosmetics companies. Testing is permitted for medical research only and there are a number of regulations that testing companies must follow such as limiting the number of tests and monitoring carefully the health of the animal being used.

France is home to several endangered species including the brown bear that resides in the Pyrenees although there is now a programme designed to prevent further decline. Wolves are also an endangered species and have been protected for almost 20 years.


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