60,000 pets abandoned every summer in France

dogIt was Brigitte Bardot who brought this shameful truth to light. Her Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals claims that the number of pets abandoned each summer is more like 100,000.  Whatever the stats, the cruel fact remains that a percentage of the French population dump their pets on the side of the road at the start of their long summer vacations.  “We find cats with their ears cut so that they can’t be traced by the tattoo earmark, dogs tied to trees, and indoor cats dumped in the countryside”, says Reha Hutin, head of the animal protection foundation, 30 millions d’amis.  Even small animals such as gerbils and hamsters are let loose.

Such is the problem that animal welfare groups run public awareness campaigns every summer. This year, 30 millions d’amis has chosen the tagline “An animal doesn’t cry….it suffers in silence”, as shown above.

Here’s what I’m thinking:  in a country where the force-feeding of geese for the production of foie gras raises nary an eyebrow AND where the spectator sport of bullfighting is legal and to this day celebrated in towns like Arles and Nimes, why should the issue of abandoning housepets merit special attention?  Animal rights groups do exist in this country and their members campaign tirelessly (and admirably.) Nevertheless the summer practice of pet-dumping persists.spa

Evidently, more French pet owners still need to understand the basic message behind that simple but effective slogan: “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. The tagline, coined by the UK’s Dogs Trust back in 1978, appears as relevant as ever.

Here’s a rather chilling reader’s comment I found on a website devoted to the above subject –

“Dogs? No one here seems to remember the infamous August of 2003 when 10,000+ elderly Parisians died because, well, it was August and everyone goes on vacation in August — everyone except animals and the elderly.”

I was here during that killer heatwave of August 2003. All the candles in my apartment melted. The elevator broke down at the office where I worked. For 9 straight days temperatures exceeded 35°C and for a shorter period temperatures exceeded 39°C. Between August 4th and August 20th, 15,000 people died, the majority in the Ile de France region, which is Paris and the outlying suburbs.  They were elderly people, apparently “abandoned” by their families. 

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