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Dogs given new legal status as sentient beings in France

P8010053_thumb By Tamara | April 19, 2014 | Comments (4)

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Dogs are no longer personal property but living beings under the law in France. Nearly 700,000 signed a petition against the 1804 law that categorized pets as "movable goods" such as tables and chairs.

The change to the law gives 63 million pets more protection against cruelty and brings the civil law in line with the penal code. The vote occured in the national assembly on Tuesday night still has to be approved by the Senate.

Dogs in Paris
Dogs in Paris. Photo credit: Remy de la Mauviniere

Former education minister Luc Ferry signed the petition and said the Napoleonic legislation was "absurd". He said, "No one has ever tortured a clock. Animals suffer, they have emotions and feelings. It is not a question of making animals subjects of the law…but simply of protecting them against certain forms of cruelty."

The changes also means that couples can contest custody in a divorce and claim compensation for suffering caused to a pet accidental injuries. People will also be allowed to leave their inheritances to their pets.



View more articles in: Advocacy and Animal Welfare

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Comments on this Article

Brilliant! Now how about the same deal for Pigs, Cows and chickens?
lol.. Sue Carver.. but really interesting point.....
Does this mean it'll be illegal for pounds to euthanize stray dogs?
I will applaud this as a step in the right direction, but as far as giving animals more protection under the law there is still a long way to go. It's great that the archaic napoleonic classification has been changed in this category of French civil law, but remember that the two other texts of French law, rural and penal, already describe animals as sentient being. The European Union's Lisbon Treaty designated farm animals as sentient being in 2009 in the fight against factory farming. The French people should count this as a victory if passed by the senate for it is a step in the right direction, but know that there is still a ways to go. I think one thing that should catch the eye of French politicians and law makers here is that the vast majority of the French population wants better laws to protect animals. French families know in their hearts and minds that dogs are family, and they want their laws to better represent those members of their family that they consider vulnerable under present law.
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