1 October 2022 saw important changes in French law regarding the acquisition of cats, dogs, ferrets and rabbits. This new piece of legislation applies whether an animal is given away free or sold to the new owner/keeper. There is no differentiation; thus, for example, if a dog breeder sells you a dog or if your son gives you a dog, the situation, and thus the requirements, is legally identical. As the new keeper of a cat, dog, ferret or rabbit, you are required to sign a ‘certificat d’engagement et de connaissances’ – a certificate of implication and knowledge – concerning said animal. This same law also concerns private owners and keepers^1 of equids but is not simply on acquisition but is also applicable to current owners or keepers. With effect from 31 December 2022 Professionals will be subject to slightly different regulations within the same piece of legislation. For other mammals, the seller is required to provide the new owner with a ‘document of information concerning the characteristics and needs of the animal’.

^1: this law applies both to those who own (les propriétaires) and those who accommodate (les détenteurs) horses and donkeys.

Who issues the certificates?

For those acquiring a cat, dog, ferret or ‘lagomorph’ (rabbit!), the responsibility lies with the seller to provide the certificate and demand a signature no less than 7 days before the acquisition takes place. Likewise it is his responsibility to provide the ‘characteristics and needs’ document for other mammals.
For horse owners and keepers, the situation is different; they are required – essentially with immediate effect – to furnish themselves with said ‘certificat d’engagement et de connaissances’ irrespective of the time they have been a horse owner/keeper. In other words, you should not wait until you are ready to acquire your next horse or donkey; the requirement is already in place.
The certificates for owners and keepers of equids are issued either by a veterinary surgeon or by an official equine organization (IFCE, Haras Nationaux?). As yet (October 2022), it would appear that the veterinary community is still largely unaware of this piece of legislation, or at least, how to apply it. It is probably safe to assume that the situation is similar for the official organizations.


The number of animals abandoned and/or destroyed because of a combination of over-breeding and poorly thought-out acquisitions is out of all proportion. A number of years ago, new legislation was introduced obliging anyone breeding dogs or cats, either commercially or simply as a one-off exercise, to register officially as a breeder. This was an attempt to reduce the number of unwanted animals and to reduce the load on refuges. It would appear to have backfired somewhat since there is little appreciable reduction in the refuge populations and many animals are still be sold or given away illegally due to them not being chipped or tattooed and supplied with official registration documents.
A new attempt is now being made to target not just the breeders but also the owners/keepers; the idea being that by signing a contract, you are committing to correct care of the animal. On past experience, this new legislation is likely to be as effective as the previous and already calls into question the disparities in its application. As if the professional keepers of equids are any better or more knowledgable than their private brethren…


Remember that ignorance of this, and any, law is not a defence. You are required to know of this legislation and it is your responsibility to ensure you are correctly informed.

Source: notes taken from L’Essentiel vétérinaire No. 651 of 1 to 7 September 2022