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ANIMAL WELFARE

France introduces new law to crack down on ‘impulse buying’ of pets

Anyone who wants to buy a cat or dog in France will now have to sign a document confirming they understand the responsibility they are about to take on, in an attempt to prevent 'impulse purchase' of pets who are later abandoned.

France introduces new law to crack down on 'impulse buying' of pets
(Photo: Brandon Bell / Getty Images via AFP)

Nearly 100,000 animals are abandoned in France every year, and the cost of living crisis has prompted fears that figure may rise.

A law passed in November 2021 to cut down on the number of pet abandonments came into effect this week when it was published in France’s Journal Officiel, at the start of the summer period when, traditionally, the number of pets dumped by their owners rises. 

Abandoning a pet is punishable by law. Penalties have been increased to a maximum of three years in prison and a €45,000 fine, compared to two years in prison and a €30,000 fine previously.

But the new law also provides for the introduction of a ‘certificate of commitment’ and better supervision of online ads in order to put an end to impulse purchases of pets, notably cats, dogs and horses.

The law introduces would-be owners to sign a “certificate of commitment and knowledge”, which will now be issued before any animal can be purchased or adopted. This certificate will specify the needs of the animal and commit the new owner to respect them.

There is also a new seven-day “cooling-off” period before the owner can take possession of the animal, to avoid impulse pet purchases.

A foster contract is also being created for foster families who take care of a pet for a short period. This contract must include information on “the physiological, behavioural and medical needs of the entrusted animal”, as well contact details of the owners and the duration of the placement.

Online adoption adverts will have to follow stricter rules. “Offers must be presented in a specific section which must include awareness and information messages relating to the act of acquiring an animal,” a press release from the Ministry of Agriculture stated. 

And they will give rise to a systematic verification, before publication, in order to ensure “the validity of the registration of the animal on the national identification file”. Only “verified adverts” can be posted.

For horses, the decree is more precise and stipulates that “any person holding a horse for purposes other than professional … must attest to their knowledge of the needs of the animal and the responsibilities which are incumbent upon them”. 

By signing the certificate of commitment, the future owner must bear in mind “the financial and logistical implications” and be able to guarantee the well-being of the animal.

Additional obligations, in addition to physiological and medical needs, relate to the traceability and identification of the horse. 

Member comments

  1. These initiatives mean nothing without effective enforcement. France already has some ‘good in theory’ laws in place to prevent abandonment and uncontrolled breeding of animals but these have had precisely zero impact due to the complete lack of enforcement of existing laws. Whilst I salute any effort to improve the lot of animals I remain pessimistic about this particular one.

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MONEY

Reader Question: Why did my French electricity bill increase by more than 4%?

The French government has capped electricity prices rises at four percent - but as with many French rules, there are certain exceptions.

Reader Question: Why did my French electricity bill increase by more than 4%?

Question: I read in the media that electricity prices in France are capped at four percent, but I just got a letter from EDF telling me that my bill is going up by almost 20 percent – is this a mistake?

The French government’s bouclier tarifaire (tariff shield), froze gas prices at 2021 levels and capped electricity price hikes to four percent – it remain in place until at least the end of 2022.

However, there are some customers who will see increases to their bills of more than that – here’s why: 

The regulated tariff rate

The French government involvement in price-setting doesn’t just happen during periods of energy crisis, normally regulated tariff prices are updated twice a year: usually on February 1st and August 1st.

Typically, this value is calculated by the CRE (commission de régulation de l’énergie) and it is based on several different factors, which are explained on this government website. These tariffs proposed by the CRE are then subject to approval by the ministers in charge of energy and the economy.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why are French energy prices capped?

These affect the state-owned Engie (formerly Gaz de France), the mostly state-owned EDF and some local distribution companies. Around 70 percent of people in France get their electricity from EDF but other suppliers do exist in the market.

These alternative suppliers, like Direct-Énergie, Total Spring or Antargaz, are free to charge more – but don’t usually charge much above the EDF rates for obvious commercial reasons.

Basic rate

The government-set limit in price rises refers only to the basic rate (option base) for electricity.

This plan represents over 80 percent of the 32 million households connected to the electricity grid in France. So, there is a good chance you might be subscribed to this without even realising it. 

If you are on the basic tariff rate, your bill will not increase by more than four percent this year.

Other tariff options

However, other options for electricity bills do exist, including off-peak rates, green deals and fixed energy prices for a certain period.

Typically people who sign up for these will have been paying less for their electricity in the preceding months than those on the base rate.

However, there are certain special deals that are not covered by the four percent cap, and some users will find that their deal period has come to an end, they are then shifted onto the base rate – which is likely to represent a price increase for them of more than four percent.

It’s little consolation when faced with rising bills, but you will likely have been paying significantly less than customers who have been in the base rate for the past few years.

READ MORE: French government to continue energy price freeze until at least 2023

Kilowatt price

Because most electricity price plans are bafflingly complicated, the easiest way to compare is to look at the price per kilowatt-hour.

Your electricity bill consists of a fixed part, the monthly subscription (abonnement) and the variable part, which depends on the quantity of electricity consumed (in euro per kilowatt-hour, kWh). The latter part is what is concerned by the tariff shield of four percent.

Here is an example of what that might look like:

The mid-August base rate price per kilowatt-hour is €0.1740/ kWh, so if you’re with EDF they cannot charge you more than this rate.

Other EDF plans charge significantly less than that – for example the Vert Electrique Weekend deal has been charging €0.1080/kWh on weekends and €0.1434/kWh on weekdays. 

Bill rises

With the tariff shield, the average resident customer on the base rate will see a €38 rise on their bill this year, while professional customers will see an average of €60 rise. 

Without the tariff shield, electricity prices per residential (non-business) customer would likely have increased an average of €330 a year, according to the CRE.

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