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ANIMAL WELFARE

What you need to know about owning a dog in France

There's a practical side to puppy love in France. From the certificates you need to sign, to the microchips you need to insert and the documents you need to travel there’s much more to owning a dog than loving them, feeding them and taking them for a walk.

What you need to know about owning a dog in France
(Photo: Laurent Emmanuel / AFP)

Getting a dog

Popping down to the pet store and picking up a perfect pooch is pretty much a thing of the past already. Pet shops will not be able to sell dogs and cats from 2024 – and won’t be able to display them in shop windows – and many have already removed puppies from displays. Only abandoned dogs and cats will be available for sale in pet stores, working with rescue shelters. 

A new law – which was published in the Journal Officiel in July – makes sure that first-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before making their purchase. 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 pets only to abandon them later. For more detail, click here

Pet abandonement is a massive problem in France, which means there are lots of lovely dogs in animal shelters that need good homes.

Registration  

Under French law, pet dogs – and cats and ferrets – over a certain age must be identified and registered on a national database. This applies whether you get a new dog in France, or whether you move to France with your dog.

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the latter is the most common method – 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.

Once the animal is registered on the database, the owner will receive a letter from I-CAD, along with a credit card-sized document listing the registered animal’s details, including its home address.

For more details, click here

Pet passports

If you live in France you can get a pet passport issued by your vet in France, and use it to travel to other EU countries, and the UK.

For UK dog owners planning to bring their beloved pet to France, for example to a second home here, dogs – and cats and ferrets – now need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for a trip over, and a new certificate is required for each trip.

To get one you need:

  • Proof of your pet’s microchipping history
  • Your pet’s vaccination record
  • A certificate for a rabies vaccination that was carried out at least 21 days before the date of travel

For more on pet passports and Animal Health Certificates, click here

Other rules

You might not believe it if you have worked along certain streets in Paris, but it is in fact illegal in France to just to walk on after your dog has done its business on pavements, public roads, green spaces and public parks reserved for children. You can be fined if you fail to pick up after your pet. 

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

In Bergerac (Dordogne) the fine has been increased to €750 –  while dog owners who do not carry two bags to collect the waste while they are out with their dogs could be fined €38.

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

Collar

Among a range of rules this web page states that any dog out on the public highway, whether it is on a leash or not, must have a collar bearing the name and address of its owner engraved on a metal plate.

Trains and cafés

In many ways, France is a pretty dog-friendly place and most cafés and restaurants are happy to welcome dogs – guide dogs must be accepted at all businesses by law. Especially if you’re outside on a café terrace, don’t be surprised to see a dog lying under the next table.

Dogs can also travel on all trains in France (with the exception of the Eurostar) although they do need a ticket (€7) and of course must be accompanied by a human. 

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For members

ENERGY

What you need to know about planned power cuts in France this winter

The French government continues to insist that power cuts are very unlikely this winter. Nevertheless, there is an emergency plan in place, so here's what it says about power cuts, from length and frequency to warning times.

What you need to know about planned power cuts in France this winter

Power outages in France during the winter of 2022-2023 are still unlikely, and President Emmanuel Macron has urged people “not to panic.” However, they are still a “real possibility” and if you would like to be prepared for potential power cuts, here is what you should know:

When and how will I know if there’s going to be a power outage?

You can continue scanning the situation using the website and application Ecowatt.

READ MORE: ‘Ecowatt’: How to use France’s new energy forecasting website and app

You will be able to see an ‘energy forecast’ for the following three days – which will put your local area into the category of Green (no strains in the grid), Orange (the grid is strained, consider decreasing energy consumption), or Red (the grid is very strained, power cuts will be inevitable without a decrease in consumption).

If EcoWatt goes red, the first step will be asking businesses to make voluntary decreases, so for example factories could go onto a three-day week.

If this still doesn’t work, then targeted power cuts may be necessary – but these will be limited in time and area and planned in advance.

The government says that power cuts will last for no longer than two hours and will be done on a commune basis – so there will never be a situation where a whole département will be blacked out, far less the entire country.

So how do I know if my area will be affected?

If Ecowatt is red, keep checking it – at 3pm each day it will be updated with any areas that face power cuts the following day.

At 3pm you will be able to see whether your département will be impacted and at 5pm you will be able to check your individual address to see if you are in a ‘load shedding’ zone (délestage in French) – the technical term for a planned outage.

You can set up alerts by SMS and email on both the application and website.

And of course there will be extensive media coverage (including on The Local) of planned cuts. 

How long would the rolling blackout last?

French government authorities have specified that power outages would not occur for more than two hours at a time.

They would occur either in the morning (between the hours of 8am and 1pm) or in the evening between the hours of 6pm and 8pm and would not affect crucial buildings such as hospitals. 

If you are impacted by a power outage on one day, you can rest assured you will not be in a “load shedding area” the following day, power bosses will vary the areas for targeted cuts and no area will have two consecutive days of cuts.

What are the things that might be impacted in the event of a power cut?

There are several every-day items that could be shut off during a power outage that you might need to be aware of; 

READ MORE: OPINION: France faces the real possibility of power cuts this winter and it can’t blame Putin

ATMs and Contactless Payment – If you are in an area that will be impacted by power outages, consider taking out cash the day before. During the power outage, you may not be able to access an ATM or use a credit/ debit card to pay, depending on whether the card reader is fully charged. 

Elevators and digicodes – if you live in an apartment block then both your lift and the electronic door codes will not work. Your building might block access to elevators during the rolling blackout. If you know you will be in an area where power is cut, you might want to consider postponing your heavy shopping trip or furniture delivery to the following day.

Digicodes and access badges also will not work without electricity. However, that does not mean you will be locked out or trapped inside, as the electricity is only used to keep the door locked. 

Shops closed – While supermarkets with generators will be able to remain open, you can expect some smaller shops to be closed during power outages.

Public transport – This will depend on where you live in France, though you can expect some services to be interrupted. Local authorities have been tasked with coming up with their own response plans in the event of power cuts. The French government has asked local authorities to err on the side of caution, in order to avoid the possibility of passengers finding themselves stranded in the middle of a track. As for the Paris Metro system, this will not be affected by power outages. Government spokesperson Olivier Véran told BFMTV on Friday that it runs on “its own electricity network.” You can expect more detailed information in the coming weeks.

Schools – While this has not yet been confirmed, the French government is reportedly working alongside the Ministry of Education to develop plans to close schools in the mornings if the area is to be impacted by rolling blackouts. This would be to protect students and teachers from having to be in the building without access to heating, alarm systems or lighting. Schools would be open again in the afternoons, as power cuts are not set to take place between 1pm and 6pm. 

Phone and internet service – During a power cut, there could be interruptions in telecommunications (both for mobile and landline devices). If you have an emergency, you should still dial 112. As this phone number is accessible regardless of the telephone operating company or line, there is still a chance it will be covered by at least one operator in the area. Call centres for the fire department and the police will continue to function. 

Traffic lights – Like other illuminated traffic signs, these are powered by electricity. It is therefore possible that they will be out of service during power cuts, so consider avoiding driving during a power outage.

Charging devices – If you learn that your area will be impacted by a power outage, consider charging any devices you might need during the day the night before. Keep in mind though that the power cut will only last two hours.

Hot water – If your water is heated electrically, it likely will not be available during a power outage. It would therefore be advised to plan around the two hour power cut for your hot water needs.

Refrigerators and freezers – There is no need to panic here – the power would only be off for two hours, so your food ought to remain protected, as refrigerators can keep cold up to four to six hours after the power shuts off. As for freezers, they can keep their temperature for 24 to 48 hours.

And what won’t be affected?

Priority sites such as hospitals, prisons, police stations, fire stations, critical factories and other emergency services will not experience power cuts.

If your power line also services a priority site, then you will be spared from blackouts. For this reason, people living in urban areas are less likely to be impacted by power cuts than people living in rural areas. As for Paris specifically, the city is so dense and is connected to so many priority sites that only about 20 percent of the Parisian territory could be impacted by power cuts. 

Current estimates show that about 60 percent of the French population could be impacted by power cuts – the remaining 40 percent are either connected to a priority line or are part of the 3,800 “high-risk patients” who are dependent on home medical equipment.

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