Sunday 26 September 2021

French abandon 60,000 pets each year when they head off on holiday

NEWS AND COMMENT: The French news media has reported that every year more than 100,000 cats and dogs are abandoned by their owners. Sixty percent of these pet abandonments occur during the summer as the French head off on their annual holiday. 

Stray kitten on the side of the road in Central Brittany seeks comfort from a cycling couple
Stray kitten on the side of the road in Central Brittany seeks comfort from a cycling couple. Photo: the couple: CĂ©line and Daniel.

So, 60,000 cats and dogs are given up at the beginning of their annual holiday so that they can go on their month-long holiday which normally takes place in August. I find that extraordinary. It seems that on that basis they adopt a pet when they come back from holiday and then give "it" up when they go on holiday next year. It's like pets are a stopgap comfort creature to entertain them between holidays. I am no doubt exaggerating but that is the impression I get.

As a consequence, the French Agriculture Minister has described the French as the "world champions at abandoning pets". He has, therefore, unveiled a €20 million plan to help animal shelters in conjunction with stiffening up the sentencing to a three-year jail term for people who abandon their animals.

Julien Denormandie outlined his plans in an interview with Europe 1 radio station in July. The government is going to give €20 million to France's 800 rescue centres to renovate and expand them. In addition, some of the money will go towards sterilizing dogs and cats.

As is the case in the UK, there has been an increase in pet ownership during Covid. In France this has resulted in a 14% increase in abandoned domestic cats and dogs at shelters as at July 2021 compared to July 2019. The increase in abandonments was, it seems, partly due to impulse adoptions and partly because less pets were being sterilised because, I presume, veterinary services were restricted.

One shelter manager, Claire Brissard, of an SPA centre in the Yvelines department said that her shelter was at a catastrophic point with respect to cats i.e. too many, and the situation was getting serious for dogs as well.

She said:
"During lockdown, the animal kept the person busy, and when they rediscovered the life they had before, they forgot about the animal.”
The government has plans for awareness campaigns using posters (and other means), which will be erected on the side of motorways where, apparently, most French abandon their pets during the summer.


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