Image shows cats at the animal shelter in Toulouse

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Charities say way more pets are deserted in France than in different European nations

After weeks of lockdown, the French are keener than ever to get away from the stifling cities this weekend.

However the dense visitors may even function an unpleasant reminder of one other annual summer season development right here.

The French have the unlucky distinction of being the European “champions” for abandoning pets which have grow to be too cumbersome for his or her summer season journeys.

Animal shelters up and down the nation are proof of this distinctive and unhappy custom.

Betty Loizeau has run a shelter simply north of Toulouse for greater than 20 years. There are rabbits, a pig and even a goat right here and every has their very own particular person story of abandonment.

“House owners hardly ever have the braveness to show up with their undesirable companions,” she says. “As an alternative they name as much as say the place they are often discovered, or drop them off in bins outdoors the shelter below the quilt of darkness.”

Curled up on the very again of a cage sits a silent, hesitant, white-haired cat. Pom Pom’s male proprietor gave her up after 15 years as a result of he bought a brand new girlfriend who did not like cats.

One other feline, Misha, has a badly twisted leg after leaping from a balcony. Her proprietor did not wish to pay the vet’s charges and that is how she ended up in a shelter.

There are many canines right here, too. Pepito is a five-year-old miniature pinscher whose homeowners tied him up subsequent to a lamp-post earlier than calling the refuge.

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Betty Loizeau and her mom Josette run an animal shelter in Toulouse

“The reasons they sometimes give are that they are going on vacation, having a child, shifting home, or they’ve a brand new accomplice with allergy symptoms, ” Ms Loizeau explains.

She says the homeowners come from all social courses, however circumstances of badly handled animals are larger on the poor housing estates and amongst the Roma Traveller neighborhood.

For shelters like this one, it’s the busiest time of the 12 months.

Provided that simply over half of all French households have a minimum of one pet, it will be truthful to imagine they’re a nation of pet lovers. But, each summer season, emotional animal rights campaigns are launched nationwide to attempt to persuade individuals to take care of their animals.

Grim statistics

Between 100,000 and 200,000 pets are deserted in France every year, with 60% of those incidents occurring over the summer season.

By comparability, the RSPCA animal charity instructed the BBC that the determine is near 16,000 within the UK.

Within the newest hard-hitting promoting marketing campaign, the French are described because the “European champions for deserted pets”. As if to emphasize the purpose, the soundtrack to the video is Queen’s rock anthem We’re the Champions.

However does this type of attraction work? It appears not.

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Media captionMeet the animals deserted throughout lockdown

A parliamentary report in June revealed that every 12 months homeowners flip their pets free in ever better numbers. So why is the determine nonetheless rising and what does it say concerning the French on the whole?

“Pets are more and more seen as an impulse purchase,” says Marina Chaillaud, a vet close to Bordeaux who has studied the social relationship between the French and their pets. Ms Chaillaud has a number of explanations for this phenomenon.

“A sure breed of cat or canine is trendy and homeowners need one, similar to a brand new smartphone,” she says. “After all, like a smartphone, when it goes out of style they dump it for an improve a few years later, when a brand new breed is taken into account stylish.”

She additionally factors to the difficulty of pets being given as items as a cause why so many are deserted. “Usually dad and mom will get pets for his or her kids and after they develop up and lose curiosity in them, out goes the pet.”

Sudden prices

Ms Chaillaud says her clinic has already obtained loads of deserted pets thus far this summer season.

However she says there’s one other, sociological, clarification for the phenomenon.

“In France, the place the state is so omnipresent, persons are so used to getting prescription medicine from a pharmacy with out handing over any cash,” she says. “They’re shocked after they must pay to deal with their pets. Consequently, many home animals are deserted after they get sick or outdated.”

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Marina Chaillaud

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Marina Chaillaud has studied the connection between French individuals and their pets

Over the summer season, homeowners uncover that inns cost additional for animals and even ban them altogether. This explains why you’ll typically see frightened, misplaced, canines wandering close to motorway service stations or seashore resorts.

One MP in Toulouse, Corinne Vignon, owns a number of stray cats and has co-introduced a invoice in parliament that might make it tougher to purchase pets and simpler to hint homeowners who mistreat or abandon them.

The invoice would introduce obligatory tagging, in addition to elevate the minimal age restrict of patrons.

“The way in which homeowners act with pets is an effective indicator of human behaviour,” Ms Vignon says. “Research present that those that deal with their animals badly are way more prone to be concerned in home violence too.”

She believes cross-party assist means her invoice will most definitely get handed later this 12 months.

However again on the refuge, Betty Loizeau is unconvinced that new legal guidelines are wanted. “We have already got stiff sentences obtainable, together with jail for homeowners who deal with their pets badly,” she says.

“The police assist me however each time I’m going to the prosecutor’s workplace with proof they don’t seem to be ,” Ms Loizeau says. “[Animal cruelty] is only a low precedence for them. Abusers are hardly ever punished. However I will not hand over.”

For extra on this story, take heed to From Our Personal Correspondent on BBC Radio four or by way of the BBC Sounds app.

Chris Bockman is the writer of Are you the foie gras correspondent? One other gradual information day in south-west France.