Animal abandonment: what penalties do owners consider?

60,000 is the number of animals abandoned each year on the roads during the summer. A figure which stands at 100,000 over the whole year, and which has earned France the inglorious title of “European champion” in the abandonment of domestic animals. A real scourge therefore, against which protection associations such as the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) are trying painfully to fight with limited means. For its part, the State has tightened the penalties incurred in recent years. So what is the law in case of abandonment for pet owners?

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More abandonments, fewer adoptions: the shelters of the SPA already saturated

Since the beginning of the summer, no less than 11,461 animals have been taken in by the SPA, including 7,712 cats. For the month of July 2022 alone, 8,000 animals have found refuge in one of the 56 centers of the association, “i.e. 11% more than last year, when there had already been a boom in abandonments”alerts the director of animal protection of the SPA, Sandrine Weltman, who believes that “the situation has never been so tense in our centers“. In fact, the shelters whose capacity is limited to 7000 places in total are already full.”We can’t even take all the dropouts anymore, they’re on the waiting list“, she is alarmed.

Saturation aggravated by the drop in the number of adoptions. “Instead of starting the summer with 4,000 animals in our shelters, we had almost 6,500. So we quickly reached saturation and this figure is not going down.” explains President Jacques-Charles Fombonne. So to whom or what do we owe this increase in abandonment compared to the year 2021, which already held a record for the number of abandonments? “In question, the irresponsible and impulsive purchases of animals during the various confinements, in order to be able to go out or take care of them, answers Anissa Putois, communication manager for the association for the defense of animal rights PETA France, questioned by our colleagues from National Geographic. “Once normal life resumes, the animals are abandoned because they need too much time and resources.” she laments.

What are the penalties for the owner in the event of abandonment?

By law, abandoning a pet is a crime. And like any crime, it is punishable. According to the government website, “the abandonment of a domestic animal, tamed or held in captivity is punishable by a penalty of up to 3 years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros.” a sentence that can be accompanied by a ban on keeping an animal pronounced by the court, but also a ban “to exercise the professional activity which made it possible to prepare or carry out the abandonment”for a maximum period of five years.

Also, if the abandonment is done knowingly and with aggravating circumstances, the perpetrator can incur up to 4 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 5 years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros.. If the law limiting animal mistreatment has hardened, the means implemented for its application remain insufficient according to animal protection associations such as PETA. “Faced with the extent of abandonment in France, urgent and effective measures have been needed for a long time. […]”We must go much further and put in place preventive measures to really reduce the number of abandoned animals“, insists Anissa Putois.

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Abandoning your animal in the middle of nature, “an act of cruelty”

Abandonment on the public highway or in nature is considered an act of cruelty punishable by a fine of €30,000 and 2 years’ imprisonment.“, recalls the SPA on its site. If the departures on vacation, or the irresponsibility of certain people wishing to have a pet without being able to provide them with the necessary care, are at the origin of many abandonments, it is Sometimes we can no longer provide for the needs of the animal and we have other choices than to part with it. Indeed, a change in living situation, loss of job, illness , or even the death of the owner, are also causes of abandonment. But whatever the reason, the association reminds you that if you have to abandon your animal, it is absolutely necessary to do so in a shelter, for lack of what, you sentence him to death.

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