BAlthough, since February 16, 2015, the civil code (article 515-14) admits that animals are “living beings endowed with sensitivity”, he keeps submitting them “under the movable property regime”. The rule, stated in its article 2276, according to which ” in the case of furniture, possession is equivalent to title. therefore applies to them, as the following case shows.
On the night of November 6 to 7, 2018, Mme X, a professional purebred cat breeder, flees her home under the threat of her partner, Mr. Y, a store employee. She only brings her two daughters and her eight cats, including Bond, a Maine Coon – recognizable by its giant size and its semi-long hair – to act as a breeder. She stays two weeks with a friend, Mrs.me Z, time to turn around.
When she found a roof, Mme X takes Bond to the vet, in order to complete his registration in the national identification file for domestic carnivores (I-CAD). After having read the cat’s microchip, the veterinarian informs him that it is already there, in the name of Mr. Y. The breeder understands that her partner has used Bond’s papers, abandoned in his flight, to appropriate it, with a complacent professional, who had no right to do so without seeing the animal.
However, to make the purchase of the sire profitable (approximately 1,500 euros), she needs these papers, which will allow her pedigree to be justified during the matings and will authorize the sale of kittens registered in the Official Book of Feline Origins.. On August 18, 2020, she therefore summons Mr. Y, so that he is ordered to return them to her. He then maintains that he is the owner of Bond, and that Mme X has him ” Fly “.
“Presumption” of ownership
Mr.’s lawyerme X invokes article 2276 of the civil code, according to which possession of movable property causes a “presumption” of property. He recalls that the person who claims this property – such as Mr. Y – must prove that the possession was “flawed”. Now, he asserts, the possession of Bond united the “four conditions” which allow it to be said to be free from all “vice”, since she was “peaceful, continuous, public and unequivocal”.
Peaceful, because Bond’s bill of sale proves that Mme X bought him, in Ukraine, shortly after having acquired his brother, Banderas, from a colleague who had given him, as with each little one in the litter, “a movie name”. Go on, because his mistress has it constantly fed and cared for – as Mr.me Z. Public, because she made him participate in cat shows. Unequivocal, because she was the exclusive holder.
The fact that Mr. Y had Bond registered in his name with the I-CAD does not make it possible to “viciary” this possession, especially since Mme X provides a letter of apology from the professional who did it. This one claims to have been ” deceived “ by Mr. Y, who, ” crying “, said the cat “ran away”. The number of the chip of the cat appearing on the passport, the professional found his file and replaced the name of the Ukrainian breeder by that of MY
Mme X therefore won his case, at first instance, then on appeal, on September 19 (2022), with the Colmar Court of Appeal. Alas, for the male, the victory comes too late: banned from covering for two years, he became unmanageable and had to be… castrated.