No more pets for debts: Russian parliament approves law to ban bailiffs from taking household animals as repayment for money owed

Russia’s parliament passed a bill that will, once signed into law, prohibit pets from being taken away from their owners by bailiffs as repayment for debt. Currently, cats and dogs can be seized to pay off outstanding arrears.

Initially proposed last year by two MPs from the ruling United Russia party, Vladimir Burmatov and Pavel Krasheninnikov, the new legislation will stop debt collectors taking away pets to raise money for paying off sums owed, but will not protect working animals used in entrepreneurial activity.

According to Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Russian lower house of parliament, removing a pet from a family is “a very painful event,” and the new laws should “prevent this tragedy.”

The soon-to-be-replaced legislation banned the removal of agricultural animals, such as cows and sheep, but designated household pets as property, and therefore fair game for debt collectors.

“From our point of view, this is barbarism, sacrilege, and outrageous cruelty,” Burmatov told Moscow daily Izvestia last year. “We are talking mainly about cats and dogs, as well as other wild animals that are not officially prohibited from being kept in residential buildings.”

The proposal was also praised by Yury Koretskikh, chairman of the Alliance of Animal Defenders. Speaking to newspaper Vzglyad, Koretskikh praised the legislation, but noted that he hadn’t heard of any cases in which a bailiff took away a pet.

“We just need to understand that taking a pet from its owner is wrong from the moral point of view, because the pet is emotionally attached to its owner,” he said.

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