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From 2024, cats and dogs will no longer be displayed and sold at pet shops in France, when a law passed in November 2021 will be implemented. The general public will no longer be able to trade dogs and cats online either. It is hoped that this law will address the problem of increased abandonment of companion animals during people’s return to work after COVID restrictions. 

People will still be able to get a cat or a dog by dealing with an authorized pet shop over the internet, directly with a breeder, or by rescuing them from a shelter. It is estimated that more than half of all French households have at least one companion animal, but around 100,000 are abandoned every year, mostly from May to August — when irresponsible animal guardians find it inconvenient to find a place for the animals when they go on holiday.

Christelle Varlet, director of the Compiègne Animal Protection Association, said, “People are dropping off dogs every day. During the lockdown, they were together all the time, but now people have gone back to work the dogs are causing problems when they are left alone all day. Owners are fed up coming home to discover soiled floors and other damage and they are giving up their pets.”

To avoid impulse buying, under the new rules prospective buyers of companion animals must obtain a “certificate of commitment and knowledge”, but it remains to be seen how effective this measure can be if breaching such commitment does not constitute a crime. These new regulations are the same that raised the maximum penalty for mistreating animals to up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($85,000) and banned wild animals in circuses from 2024.