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LIVING IN FRANCE

Deaths on the roads in France halved during lockdown

The latest road death figures for France show that the number of fatal crashes halved in April compared to last year - but speeding has become more of a problem.

Deaths on the roads in France halved during lockdown
Photo: AFP

With the population largely confined to their homes, road deaths unsurprisingly saw a sharp fall in April, the latest figures show.

A total of 103 people died on the roads in France in April 2020, compared to 233 in April 2019. The number of crashes resulting in injuries fell by 74 percent from 4,234 to 1,099.

The lockdown began in mid March and March also saw a fall in road deaths – down from 255 to 154 and overall road traffic fell by 60 percent during the lockdown.

The fall in the number of road deaths, and other type of accidental death including workplace accidents, helps to explain why some French départements actually saw fewer deaths during the coronavirus epidemic than during previous years.

MAP Which French départements had the worst death rates during the coronavirus outbreak?

 

But unfortunately the empty roads have tempted some people into extremely reckless driving – in southern France a motorist was caught on camera doing 250km/h.

Chantal Perrichon, head of road safety group Ligue contre la violence routière told French newspaper Le Parisien: “Since the start of the lockdown, traffic has decreased by 60 per cent, but the number of serious speeding incidents has increased by 16.3 per cent.

“Some people have let off steam by letting their vehicles loose on deserted roads.”

 

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ANIMAL WELFARE

How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

Around 300,000 pets are abandoned every year in France, many of them during the summer months. So if you're looking for a pet there are many lovely cats and dogs in shelters looking for a good home - here's how to go about it.

How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

Where to look

French animal welfare charity the Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA) is an excellent place to start – it currently lists nearly 4,500 animals available for adoption. 

But there are lots of other smaller, local organisations – it may be worthwhile dropping in to see a local vet as they will generally know of local groups seeking homes for abandoned pets.

There will be paperwork

First-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before they will be allowed to buy an animal, and the same applies to those looking to adopt. 

After the signed document is delivered to the authorities, future owners have seven days to change their mind – the idea is to prevent people from ‘impulsively’ buying or adopting pets only to abandon them later. 

The SPA, certainly, demands that would-be adopters are of legal age and are willing to take part in a “responsible adoption process”.

These things take time – as you should expect for a commitment that can last more than a decade. As the SPA website says, it seeks to ensure “that each decision is carefully considered and that the adopted animal matches its new family and way of life”.

The process may include home visits, interviews and discussions to help adopters find the animal to which they are best suited – older people may not cope well with an energetic puppy, for example.

READ ALSO What you need to know about owning a dog in France

Shelter animals

Some welfare organisations ensure their animals spend some time with ‘foster families’ until they are adopted. This means that the organisation has a pretty good idea how that animal is likely to behave when it gets to its new adopted home.

It is more difficult to judge an animal’s character if it has been kept in a pen in a shelter.

It will cost money

A financial contribution will most likely be requested by the organisation from which you are adopting. The sum will depend on the age and type of animal being adopted. 

The SPA, for example, asks for a donation to cover vets’ fees of between €250 and €300 for a dog, depending on its age, and €150 for a cat or a kitten.

Another well-known animal welfare organisation in France, Les Amis des Animaux, has a slightly different scale of fees covering the cost of chipping, vaccinations – including rabies/passport in mature animals, sterilisation, worming, et cetera. 

READ ALSO What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

What else you need to know

Under French law, pet dogs – and cats and ferrets – over a certain age must be identified and registered on a national database. 

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the latter is the most common method these days – that is registered on the Identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD) database

The procedure to insert the microchip, or ink the tattoo, must be carried out by an approved professional. The procedure should be done by a vet and costs between €40 and €70, the shelter will tell you whether your new pet already has a microchip or not.

You might not believe it if you have walked along certain streets in Paris, but you can be fined if you fail to pick up after your pet. 

The standard fine is €68, but the mayors of some towns have imposed stricter rules in the street, in parks, gardens and other public spaces. 

The French government’s Service Public website lists other rules regarding the health and wellbeing of pets. Read it here.

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