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French MP proposes puppy custody law

Joshua Melvin · 18 Apr 2014, 17:15

Published: 18 Apr 2014 17:15 GMT+02:00

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One the heels of a French lawmakers taking a step toward this week toward changing animals’ legal status from that of a ‘chair’ to a ‘sentient being’, another big shift could be afoot.

A French lawmaker has proposed a law that would lay out a legal framework for pets similar to ones that exist for people on questions like divorce, untimely death or abuse.  

Assembly member Frédéric Lefebvre, member of the centre-right UMP party, told The Local why the bill is not as ridiculous as it could sound to those not enamored with four-legged friends.

What is the problem?

“Animals are not things, nor are they human. They are living beings. Our Civil Code considers them as objects. Is this right?”

The Civil Code, which was drafted in 1804, is the basis of the French legal system. It still considers animals “personal property”, which means they have the same legal status as a chair.

Members of the law committee in the National Assembly voted this week to rewrite the Napoleonic-era code so that animals are considered “sentient beings.” Without further legislation, that change would be primarily symbolic.

Why did you get involved in the issue?

“Because it concerns the lives of millions of French people who attached to their animals. What happens in case of divorce? How about accidental or non-accidental death of the animal, what about pain and suffering damages? What about in case of abuse ? We need a legal framework.”

"And let’s dispense with the exaggerations ...farming, hunting or animal shows would not be forbidden.”

Some people may find this ridiculous. What do you say to that?

“It is a matter of common sense. If we already begin by considering that pets are not things, as stated in the Civil Code, but as a living being then we have already taken a big step. What is ridiculous about that?”

“Let’s get to the point. Do we respect living things?”

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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