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The National Assembly is at the bedside of animals on Tuesday, with a bill from the majority against mistreatment, echoing the concerns of society and while one in two French people own a pet.
Dogs and cats, dolphins and other mink: the hemicycle debate, Tuesday, January 26, about animal abuse, while for nearly 7 in 10 French people (69%), animals are poorly defended by politicians, according to the Ifop barometer for the 30 Million Amis Foundation, according to which parliamentarians are “under pressure from public opinion”.
Before the start of the debates Tuesday evening, a rally is scheduled for the beginning of the afternoon near the National Assembly, at the call of the Animalist Party. This does not want to be satisfied with an “announcement effect” with the measures on the table, which aim to better regulate the keeping of animals.
For their part, circus professionals meet not far Tuesday at midday, to denounce a “coup de grace” with the gradual ban on wild animals in itinerant establishments.
The deputies make a parenthesis until Friday in the middle of health or regal subjects. Nearly 500 amendments are on the menu until Friday on this text which strongly mobilizes them and which shares each political group.
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Certificate of “awareness”, sterilization of stray cats …
The authors of the bill – Loïc Dombreval, Laëtitia Romeiro Dias, both LREM, as well as Dimitri Houbron of the Agir group – hope for nothing less than a “historic” law, in the European champion country of possession of animals, but also abandonment.
The text on the agenda is “a first step” with “useful” measures, relativize elected officials from both right and left. While annoying subjects such as hunting, intensive breeding or bullfighting are not addressed, “this bill is made so that the majority gives themselves a clear conscience”, according to Bastien Lachaud (LFI).
As recommended by the government, the proposed law establishes “an awareness certificate” (now “knowledge certificate”) for future animal owners, to recall the obligations of care, vaccination and the costs associated with the possession of animals. ‘an animal (food, veterinarian …).
Stray cats will have to be sterilized, an obligation considered heavy by some municipalities.
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The text also provides for tougher sanctions against mistreatment, with three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros for the death of the animal. In case of conviction, people may be prohibited from keeping an animal. The penalties could be tightened in the hemicycle.
Exit several amendments, including hunting with hounds
Animal protection associations welcome these measures but regret that the bill does not, for example, prohibit the sale of animals on the internet, which “promotes illegal breeding”, and in animal shops, which “encourages impulse buying”, according to the president of the SPA Jacques-Charles Fombonne. He would prefer to reserve the sale to breeders, like several deputies who will bring amendments to this question. But the government simply wants to better regulate online sales.
Other articles take up the government’s commitments: gradually prohibit the keeping of wild animals in traveling circuses and dolphinariums, the presence of wild animals on television sets, in discotheques or at private parties, prohibit ‘bears and wolves and close mink farms.
These provisions in particular bristle circus people and the country’s three dolphinaria, already hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Parc Astérix announced on Monday the closure of its dolphinarium, which had eight dolphins.
The deputies had started in October to debate this component on wild animals on the occasion of a bill of former “walkers” of the Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity group.
This episode finally helped the elected LREM, “dogs and cats between them” for many months, to “converge”, relates a tenor. Animals are “a real concern”, as evidenced by the half a million votes for the Animalist Party in the European elections, or the attempted “referendum for animals” launched last summer.
The text “tries to bring together on this very sensitive subject”, underlines this responsible LREM. Exit the amendments to prohibit cage farming or hunting with hounds, or on the conditions of slaughter: they were deemed inadmissible because unrelated to the text, to the chagrin of many parliamentarians.