For what appears to be the first time, an animal abuser in France has been ordered to pay compensation for animal cruelty and sentenced to eight months in jail. On 11th January 2024, magistrates in Lille, France, ordered the unnamed man to pay €100 in damages due to “préjudice animalier” charges over the battering and mutilation of Lanna, a cat, and he was also found guilty of causing psychological suffering. Lanna was found after being dumped in a bin but unfortunately died in July 2023 due to injuries sustained from her abuse.
The amount of the fine will be donated to the northern branch of one of France’s biggest animal welfare organisations, the Ligue Protectrice des Animaux du Nord de la France (LPA-NF).
Graziella Dode, a lawyer who specialises in animal rights and prosecuted this case, said to The Connexion, “[This is] one more step toward animal rights… We found ourselves before a jurisdiction that heard our arguments out, a judge who took the time to analyse what we brought forward…On previous occasions, judges dismissed our arguments, saying that an animal does not have the same status as a legal entity [as a person].”
The “préjudice animalier” charge recognised the cat, a non-human animal, to be the main victim in this case, and this could lead to other similar judgements. Animals in France are protected by a 2015 law that declares them “être vivant doué de sensibilité” (sentient living beings), but they are still legally considered “goods” rather than “persons” and have fewer laws to protect them compared with other European countries such as the UK. In 2019 several university professors in France wrote an open letter calling for a change in how the authorities treat animals, saying they should legally be treated as “des personnes physiques non humaines” (non-human physical persons).