Swedish government proposes ban on pet abandonment

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Swedish government proposes ban on pet abandonment
Abandoned cats in a pet home in Norrtälje. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

People who abandon domestic animals would face harsher punishment under a new bill put forward by two Swedish ministers.


The proposal for an updated animal protection law includes an explicit ban on abandoning cats and other pets, as well as calling for a requirement for pet owners to prove they are competent to care for animals, and further reviews into fur farms and circus animals.

Sweden’s Minister for Rural Affairs Sven-Erik Bucht and Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin outlined their proposal for updates to the 30-year-old law in an opinion piece for Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter

They said that the aim of the proposal was to "take steps towards better animal welfare, without hampering the competitiveness of Swedish farmers, or the effort to increase food production".


"The proposal is based on a government investigation into animal rights that is seven years old, so it's taken a while and we're pleased there's finally a proposal for a new animal rights law," Benny Andersson from animal rights organization Djurens Rätt told The Local. "We sincerely hope that they mean what we're saying here."

One of the key points is an explicit ban on abandoning pets, with the high number of abandoned cats in Sweden highlighted. In cases where the owner of an abandoned animal cannot be found, county boards would be obligated to intervene, and the government has also appointed a commission to look into "appropriate penalties" for those who commit crimes against animal rights.

Andersson said such a ban was "totally necessary", adding that available figures show that between 100,000 and 150,000 pet cats are abandoned in Sweden. 

It is currently mandatory to register all dogs, meaning that if they run away, they can be returned to their owners, while the owners of mistreated or abandoned dogs can also be more easily identified. However, no such regulations exist for cat-owners, and Lövin and Bucht said the government would investigate whether this step should be taken.

Under the new proposal, which will be reviewed by Sweden's Council on Legislation, the government would also order a review into fur farming. Fox and chinchilla farms are illegal in the Scandinavian country, however roughly one million minks are killed every year for their fur, and Andersson said that a ban on mink farming was "long overdue".

And elephants and sea lions will be banned from performing in circuses in Sweden, a proposal which Andersson welcomed, though he said that Djurens Rätt would prefer to see the current list of banned animals replaced with a list of animals which are allowed in circuses, to prevent the possibility of new exotic animals being brought to Sweden.

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