A bill that tackles early animal welfare in France made it through the National Assembly late on Wednesday, aiming to limit the sale of puppies and kittens to breeders instead of pet shops.
If passed by the Senate, the bill against animal abuse will prevent litters from being separated from their mothers too early, which often leads to the animal feeling abandoned and deprives them of essential social skills. The rule will not apply to smaller mammals such as rabbits.
Furthermore, a ban will be placed on mobile facilities used to publicly display the animals, and breeders will need to undergo animal welfare training.
Marketplaces and online ad sites will also need to specify identification numbers for their animals, their age and types of breed in order to block trafficking. The rule excludes Facebook’s marketplace.
Lead rapporteur of the bill Loïc Dombreval, from Macron’s La République en Marche party, backs the online regulation of sales because fake advertisements “puts professional breeders in trouble.”
However, the Assembly’s approval is not without its critics elsewhere in government.
Minister for Agriculture Julien Denormandie has argued that the new rules would unfairly target garden centre workers and pet shop owners relying on the income, and also could risk pushing those sales onto the black market.
Pet sales have been booming throughout the pandemic as families spend more time at home, pushing global sales up to $125 billion in 2020. But the circumstances also encourage illegal traders to scale up their activities.
A similar law was enacted in England last year, aimed at tackling puppy-farms that often distribute “sick, traumatised, unsocialised puppies.”