Animal protection in Luxembourg


©Janie Airey


The Chamber of Deputies unanimously adopted the new Animal protection law on 6 June 2018. In a continuously changing society the old law of 15 March 1983 was no longer relevant. Peoples’ attitudes towards animals have substantially changed since 1983. What is characteristic of this new law is its fundamentally new approach, based on the legal recognition of the dignity of animals, which must be respected by those who care for them.


The relationship between humans and animals has changed considerably over the last 100 years. Today, pets have a very different status in our society. Formerly, animals were considered more as a means to an end, be it to produce food in order to ensure subsistence or to guard against danger. It was not until much later that animals took on the role of companions, comforting and providing moral support for their owners. Animals are no longer considered as objects, but as partners.

Dignity, safety and well-being

In drafting the new legal text, an effort was made to do justice to this development. It is a very important step that animals are no longer regarded as objects, but as living beings. The aim of the new law is not only to better protect animals, but also to guarantee their dignity, safety and well-being. Respect for the dignity of animals is therefore a completely new aspect in this law. In addition, a certain degree of sensitivity is ascribed to animals. It is now scientifically recognised that animals can experience feelings, such as pain.

Opinions of various animal welfare organisations have also influenced the new legal text. The veterinary administration has also contributed a great deal to the new text because its inspectors are confronted day in, day out with violations of animal welfare.

As a result, it can be said that the new law grants animals new rights that can be asserted in their favour.


A second important point of the new law is the sanctions, which had large shortcomings in the previous law. l'introduction de sanctions, qui faisaient défaut à la loi précédente. As a result, among other things, the police did not have enough means to prove that an offence had been committed and the courts did not have the necessary legal basis to punish offences. This will change with the new law. Stricter sanctions are introduced. Above all, however, the individual major and lesser offences are described much more precisely, which makes it easier for courts to determine the seriousness of the offence and to impose sanctions accordingly.

Another innovation is that veterinary inspectors will be able to issue summonses directly for minor infringements of the Animal protection law in the same way that road traffic offences are dealt with. These fines ("avertissements taxés") are laid down in a new Grand-Ducal Regulation. As a result, veterinary inspectors will be able to act more quickly.

In addition to the criminal law component, administrative penalties and emergency measures are introduced. For example, these administrative measures will make it possible in future to withdraw an authorisation from a business or close it down.

Finding new homes for confiscated animals

A third major improvement is that it will be faster to find new homes for confiscated animals. un replacement plus rapide des animaux saisis. Previously, these animals had to be housed in animal shelters or with volunteers from animal welfare organisations until the case of animal cruelty came to court. This could take a year or more, which meant that the animal shelters were completely overcrowded. This process should now be accelerated. In the event of an emergency, if the owner does not object, the examining magistrate may decide within 14 days to release the animal for sale.

Ban on killing animals for economic reasons

A fourth major innovation is the ban on killing animals for economic reasons, such as shredding male chicks or slaughtering male calves in milk production. Luxembourg is the first country to introduce such a ban.

Positive lists

A fifth new point is the introduction of so-called positive lists. This means that only animals that are on the list may be kept in Luxembourg. If someone owns or wishes to acquire an animal that is not on the list, that person must submit a request to the Minister.

A similar positive list also exists in connection with circus animals. In future so-called wild animals will be banned in Luxembourg.

Raising livestock

As far as raising livestock is concerned, the new law does not change anything essential for farmers. Most of the legislation on livestock is already laid down at Community level, such as the size of cattle stalls, etc. sont déjà fixées au Level communautaire. Of course, however, dignity, safety and well-being must also be guaranteed for livestock.

News items on (in French)

Last update