Document type : Article published on Public Sénat
website Author : Romain David
Preview: The joint committee on the bill against animal abuse reached agreement on a compromise text on Thursday 21 October. The document notably brings to an end the keeping of wild animals in travelling circuses and water parks. It also bans the sale of cats and dogs in pet shops, except in partnership with a shelter.
French Assemblée Nationale and Senate members reached a compromise on Thursday in the session of the joint committee convened to work on the bill "to combat animal abuse and strengthen the bond between animals and humans". The LR senator Anne Chain-Larché, who was the rapporteur for this text for the Upper Chamber, was successful in gaining agreement from her Assemblée Nationale colleagues that many of the corrections made by the Senate would be retained in the final version. "I am very pleased. We worked until three in the morning to reach a consensus and this was approved unanimously by the committee members," she told Public Sénat. "We have just managed to reach unhoped-for agreement on landmark legislation to improve animal welfare in France. With a ban on wild animals in circuses and dolphinariums and on the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops we have achieved a magnificent victory for animals," tweeted Loïc Dombreval, the French Assemblée Nationale member (LREM), who is one of the co-authors of the bill.
An end to wild animals in circuses and dolphinariums by 2028
The hottest issue in this bill is Article 12 which, in the version initially approved in the lower chamber, sought to impose a total ban on cetaceans in dolphinariums and wild animals in travelling circuses. The Senate's Economic Affairs Committee had largely watered down these two measures, to the great displeasure of animal protection groups.
For circuses, the compromise that has been reached provides for a ban on wild animals within seven years of the bill passing into law, provided that suitable outcomes for the welfare of the animals are available. "Failing this, a decree will allow circuses to keep species for which acceptable solutions have not been found," says Anne Chain-Larché. "For the Senate, this was a red line in the discussion: not to impose a ban without appropriate provision for the fate of these animals.
For dolphinariums, the keeping of cetaceans will cease to be legal within five years. Public performances are also banned. Nevertheless, it will still be possible for these species to be looked after in shelters, in accordance with conditions that will be specified by decree and will emphasise a scientific approach to the situation. Absent such a decree, bans may be imposed on a case-by-case basis. Anne Chain-Larché reminds us that only 21 dolphins and 4 orcas are held in captivity in France, in centres that already closely resemble research and conservation centres. "The intention has been to enshrine in law what already exists. Within the context of scientific programmes, it will be possible for "demonstrations" to take place to showcase advances in research.
Ban on the sale of cats and dogs in pet shops
The abolition of the sale of puppies and kittens in pet shops, which was rejected by the Senate, has now been reinserted in the text with a deadline of 2024. However, an exception will be made for animals that have come from shelters as part of a partnership between pet shops and welfare groups, as an encouragement to the adoption of abandoned cats and dogs. It will not be permitted for them to be on display in windows giving onto the street. New pets (other small companion animals) continue to be sold in pet shops.
A standards label to regulate online sales
Regarding the control of online sales, the Senate demanded that a formal licence should be issued by the Ministry of Agriculture for websites hosting classified ads. This measure was deemed too complex to implement by Minister Julien Denormandie in discussion. The members of the two chambers finally agreed on the idea of a standards label that would be subject to various criteria.
A pilot for the sterilisation of stray cats
The issue of stray cats had also divided the two chambers during the examination of the text in full session, the Senate having categorically refused to make mayors organise the sterilisation of feral cats in their municipalities as a statutory duty. The elected representatives agreed on the implementation of a five-year pilot, at local level. "The idea is to get local elected representatives and national authorities around the table to see how we can do this", explains Anne Chain-Larché.
The ban on breeding wild animals such as American mink solely for their fur has been retained. The bill also provides for a whole series of sanctions to combat abandonment, abuse and zoophilia.
The text drawn up by the committee still has to be put to both chambers in November for final adoption. The extensive revisions by the Senate at the end of September had raised considerable uncertainty over the outcome of the joint committee's deliberations, but the compromise that has finally been reached gives Anne Chain-Larché hope that the Assemblée Nationale will ratify it. "This bill is a step forward, the demands were valid, as much from the public and welfare groups as from professionals. This text can only make things easier," she said.
Subject that gave rise to multiple reactions on October 21, including:
- A press release from the Senate: Proposed law on "Animal abuse": the agreement of the joint committee marks an important step for the protection of animals
- A statement by the Minister of Ecological Transition: Statement by Barbara Pompili following the conclusion of the Joint Committee on the bill to strengthen the fight against animal abuse