“An animal is not a commodity”, protests the president of the SPA


The sad record of abandonments for the summer period of 2021 has not been reached… but almost. The SPA teams welcomed between May 1 and August 31, 2022, in their 63 shelters, 16,457 animals (dogs, cats and NACs), a decrease of 2.7% compared to last year. But this year, the difficulty was in the overload of the refuges. They were saturated from the start of the season, with a 9% drop in adoptions in the first quarter, which complicated their task all summer.

For lack of places, they had to refuse abandonments from mid-August, developing a long queue. Jean-Charles Fombonne, the president of the SPA, answers our questions.

What is your assessment of this summer?

It’s paradoxical because we didn’t have more dropouts than last year, but we have to put this result into perspective with two parameters. The first is that 2021 had been a very bad year. And we are only a few animals away from the abandonments. The second is that we had a lot fewer adoptions in the spring. Instead of starting the summer with 3,500 or 4,000 animals in shelters, we started with 6,000, already full. And other associations have had the same problem. From August 10, we had to refuse withdrawals. If we had been able to accommodate them all, the summer would undoubtedly have been even worse than 2021.

How do you organize yourself in these cases?

People who come to abandon their animal, we ask them to wait a bit, to reflect, and to come back in a few weeks if they have not changed their mind. Otherwise, foster families are used. People are asked to take animals for eight or fifteen days. Especially for cats. As a rule, people adopt them. We do what we can, we push the walls.

There, things are going a little better, we have had a few more adoptions in recent days compared to August. This may be explained quite simply because we have more animals in shelters, and therefore people have more choices, they find their happiness.

What explains these mixed figures?

I think the Covid-19 effect has been prolonged in a negative way. For two years, we couldn’t leave our homes, go on vacation. And today, we say to ourselves “Cool, let’s go to Ibiza! “Except that” heck, what do we do with the dog? “.

The animal passes after the holidays. We adopted it, we didn’t think about it, and now we’re abandoning it. Ditto for the cat or the rabbit. This year we had an exponential number of rabbit abandonments. Some are just released into the wild. Except that they are domestic animals, without defense, which will be eaten by other animals or will die of hunger.

Of the 16,000 animals collected, 11,000 are cats. How do you manage this crowd?

Already, we can put more in a small space than dogs, it helps a little. The difficulty with cats is that if they stay there for a long time, they develop concentration disorders. So it becomes more difficult then to get them adopted.

But the root of the problem is sterilization. A cat, it walks, it meets other congeners, alley cats, then they have babies, sometimes in the private garden. These people then bring the babies back to us, in good or bad condition. And we do what is necessary to make them adoptable. Only vaccinated, sterilized and healthy animals are given.

You mention in your report the problem of “fashionable dogs”, which have special needs and are therefore more difficult to adopt…

They are mostly malinois and staffs. They are not difficult dogs in the sense of behavior or aggression. But a Malinois, for example, has significant physical needs. He needs to exercise a lot, run, be stimulated. Someone who lives in an apartment and works from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., that’s not possible.

We therefore reserve their adoption for people who have a particular profile. The problem is that we collect more than we have families to adopt them. It’s like for category dogs. Legislation will not advance and we have more and more of them.

You also talk about strengthening your means against animal abuse, with more than 7,000 investigations carried out this summer. Is it in the continuity of your request to the government for an Animal Rights Defender?

Yes. There has already been great progress with the November law (Law No. 2021-1539 aimed at combating animal abuse and strengthening the bond between animals and humans). Even if we are disappointed that there is still no definitive ban on the sale of an animal on the Internet, because an animal is not a commodity!

Two other things bother us about this decree. The first: we are asked for a veterinary certificate of less than three months when adopting an animal. It costs about ten euros, multiplied by the number of our animals, you can imagine… But some stay for more than three months.

The other difficulty is the certificate of commitment at the time of adoption. We were the first to ask. When a person wants to adopt an animal, they must sign this contract, but there is a withdrawal period, it is a puzzle for which we do not yet have the solution. We pushed for the creation of this law but we find ourselves helpless.

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