Abandonment of animals: what do the owners think who separate from their dog or their cat?

The abandonment of pets is a scourge in France. (©Illustration/Emma Grivotte/The Awakening of Pont-Audemer)

At the refuge of Tollevast, in the Channel, “saturated”, the employees and volunteers, who “count more abandonments than adoptions”, remain surprised by the lightness of the commitments.

Fabienne Renouf, the manager, repeats it, however: “it’s for the long term”. A cat lives on average 13 years and a dog between 10 and 15 years. Adopting on a whim is therefore a very risky game, and the big losers are always the animals.

Throughout the year, dogs and cats have found themselves alone because their masters have separated, have health problems or have to go to a retirement home. And summer is always a particularly dreaded season.

“The SPA refuges are more saturated than last year”

Every year, from May to September, there are many abandonments, “because their owners cannot take their animals with them on vacation”, explains Anne-Marie Aubert on Actu.fr

At the national level, if “the SPA refuges are more saturated than last year”, abandonments would undoubtedly be a little less numerous than last year, according to Jacques Charles Fombonne, the president of the SPA, questioned by FranceInfo.

“We had very few adoptions in the spring, which meant that we started the summer with shelters that were already almost full, whereas usually we still have 2,000 or 3,000 places before the month of June,” he explains.

But giving up pets is fine a scourge in France. What are the penalties imposed by law to curb it? Actu.fr make the point.

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Article 521-1 of the penal code

The penal code abandons it on the public highway or in nature as an act of crueltyas well as animal abuse.

Article 521-1 establishes that any act of cruelty, serious abuse or harm to a domesticated animal, tamed or held in captivity is punishable by three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros. If the abandonment is done knowingly and with aggravating circumstances, the perpetrator can incur up to four years in prison and a fine of 60,000 euros.

Finally, if the abandonment led to the death of the animal, the penalty can be up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros.

Despite all these sanctions, the abandonment of animals is still just as common and causes thousands of victims (with 100,000 animals abandoned each year, including 60,000 during the summer, France even holds the sad record for the number of abandonments in Europe according to the 30 Million Friends Foundation) while “many solutions are now available to have your companion looked after during your holidays: kennels, pet care at home, family, friends…”, recalls the SPA.

Although the law has become stricter in recent years, the means implemented for its application remain insufficient, according to the animal protection associations. Still, it is very difficult to prosecute the owners or quite simply to catch them in the act of abandonment.

It is possible to abandon your animal in certain cases

There are two types of animal abandonment: direct abandonment in shelters and wild abandonment on public roads or in nature.

Legally, an abandonment in refuge is considered as a transfer in the rules. But it’s not just a legal issue, it’s also about animal welfare.

Thus, it is possible to abandon your animal in certain cases: a change in professional or medical situation which makes it impossible to take care of an animal. In this case, the owner will have to deposit his cat or his dog in a refuge which will take care of it and will make sure to find him a new family.

In this case, it is up to you to take the step of finding a refuge. Sometimes, the latter will ask you the reasons for the abandonment, information on the animal’s past and may ask you for financial compensation to participate in the care of your former companion.

In order to avoid compulsive purchases and abandonment, a certificate of commitment will soon be mandatory before acquiring an animal. Certificates provided by professionals who will aim to empower future pet owners. They will be the specific needs of each species, the duties of the owners (care, identifications) and the informants of the costs related to the possession of an animal.

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