Info Flash N°17

February 2015

Nos Amis Les Animaux 85480 is a registered association (W852002671/SIRET 538 773 193 00015) for the protection of animals. Often called simply NALA we have members of many nationalities but mainly English and French.

We were set up in September 2010 and since then have placed about 215 animals, mainly cats, with loving, new owners. We have obtained the French equivalent of charitable status so that donations are tax-deductible.

Top stories for this month:

  • Bearing fruit?
  • The beginning of the end of the beginning...
  • A little Hello from our Adoptees
  • Bedwarmers Looking For a Good Home
  • Program NALA 2015
  • Come and join Nala; together we are stronger!

Bearing Fruit?

It's been clear to us for a long while that we could spend the rest of our lives saving pets, but the overall problem would still remain. As long as people abandon their pets and stray animals reproduce, there will be a need for associations to rehome them. Way back in 2012 we wrote to the Minister of Agriculture expressing our concerns and asking what he was planning to do about it. The reply was pretty meaningless. So we embarked on a few more rounds of exchanges with similar results. Finally in December 2014 things started to look up:

- Mr. Martial Saddier, a member of the the National Assembly who we had contacted, asked the Minister one of our questions... and also got a typically bland reply.

- we received an invitation to meet with Mrs. Sylviane Bulteau, a member of the National Assembly and the Conseil General of the Vendee. We met her on the 5th of January 2015 and had the opportunity to bend her ear for an hour. She was totally unaware of the problem of stray animals, so listened with apparent interest as we explained. 

The very next day a letter, sent just before the New Year, arrived from the Ministry of Agriculture inviting us to contact them to arrange a meeting with the Office for the Protection of Animals. That wasn't too bad... only just over two years from our first letter.

So on the 9th of February we left the car in the car park of a shopping mall on the outskirts of Paris and took the RER and Metro to the Ministry. There we were welcomed by two members of the department. We were of the opinion that the only contact that they have with the associations for the protection of animals is via the big associations and then only the desk jockeys. They confirmed this, so we explained the day to day reality that we have experienced: phone calls at all hours from people demanding immediate help, mayors that ignore the rules, the difficulty of working with volunteers who can disappear at the drop of a hat, fund-raising etc.

We pointed out that it was unfair that the mayors and animal pounds got paid for dealing with stray animals whilst the only organisations that could save the animals from life (or death) in the pounds were the voluntary associations who don't get paid.

We explained the difficulties that we had encountered in just trying to find out the number of strays in the Vendée. We were not surprised to hear that they don't have, nor ask for, the statistics. We suggested that from now on they ask for the numbers to be sent at the same time as the Departments send in their annual report. We'll have to see if that happens, as we know that it's easier to ignore a problem if it's not been measured.

We also talked about the situation in other countries and their solutions such as obligatory sterilisation when animals change owner and having a Minister responsible for the well-being of animals. We have a suspicion that these ideas may run foul of the "Not Invented Here" effect.

Finally we suggested that they carry out an information campaign to remind people of the obligation to have their pet identified and the benefits of having them sterilised. We gave them short shrift when they suggested that the associations could do this: we're already cleaning up the mess and don't get paid for it. Why should we also pay for the prevention, whilst the government sits back and does nothing?

We think that the meeting went well: they listened and took a lot of notes and didn't kick us out when we ran over the time that they had allotted to us. We'll have to see if anything concrete comes out of it.

The Beginning of the End of the Beginning...

...Or something like that. Nearly 4 years ago we had a meeting with the DDPP (Direction Departmentale de la Protection des Populations) who used to be known of the Department for Veterinary Services. In the course of this meeting we asked them for statistics on the number of stray animals in the Vendée and what happened to them. They replied that no figures were available, so we left it at that.

Over the course of the next couple of years we learnt that every town should have or have access to a pound for stray animals and that every manager of a pound has to have a register which shows what happened to the animals. When we added to this the discovery of the French Freedom of Information (FOI) law which dates back to 1978, we came to the conclusion that we could find out the statistics ourself by asking every town to provide us with a copy of their register from 2002. So we did this in October 2013.

The results were surprising: the vast majority of the 282 towns in the Vendée didn't reply. So we sent a reminder a couple of weeks later. Again replies were conspicuous by their absence. Finally after another month or so we informed the holdouts that, because of time limits, we would have to ask the Commission for the Access to Administrative Documents (CADA) to make a ruling. We included a copy of a precedent that was in our favour and subsequently received some more copies of the registers.

We sent our complaint to the CADA and waited... and waited and waited. Normally the CADA gives an opinion within two months, but in our case it took about six. This was because they had contacted the town halls to explain what was expected of them and to give them a chance to point out any potential difficulties with complying. One article of the FOI law states that if the body that is asked for documents doesn't possess the documents it should pass on the request to the correct body and inform the person making the request.

Most French towns belong to a Community of Communes (comcom) which share an animal pound or subcontract the task of dealing with stray animals to a private animal pound. It was amazing to see how many of the towns told the CADA that they couldn't reply to our request as, because of this, they didn't have a register... but didn't tell us. There were also a number of towns who sent some of the documents that we asked for to the CADA... but not to us.

In June 2013 the CADA gave a favourable opinion to our request, so we sat back and waited for the copies to roll in. We're still waiting...

To cut a long story short, by the end of 2014 we had received the statistics from 2002 onwards from, wait for it, 31 out of the 282 towns. Another 67 provided statistics for some years and four towns and two comcoms said that we could consult the registers in person. Seven towns don't have access to an animal pound and 66 don't have a register. We have heard absolutely nothing from 71 of the towns. The private animal pounds, who at the moment serve nearly two thirds of the towns have not replied although one did send the figures for 2013... ( eyes roll) to the CADA.

Notwithstanding this less than exemplary reaction to our request, we decided to look at the figures from the towns that fully complied. Because of the limited sample, the results are not conclusive: are we only looking at the best towns, because they obeyed the FOI request? .

Our preliminary conclusion is that the situation for dogs is improving with nowadays about 60-70% being reunited with their owner. This is probably due to them being identified. The situation for cats is not so good. Until 2008, there were less than 10/year mentioned in the registers mostly found dead on the public road, nowadays there are 50 or more, but the majority are put down. This is probably because few owners have their cats identified.

You can see more details in french  here

A little Hello from our Adoptees

and a little video of Roméo 

Bedwarmers Looking For a Good Home

For more information please look here

Program NALA 2015

Every last Friday of the month 

* NALA book afternoon at Sue and Stuart's home in Cheffois, 

Address : 12 Rue du bourg Chasteigner, Cheffois. 

Tel.:  02 51 51 00 96

Our books are as always priced at 1 Euro or less and all proceeds go to help animals in need

Every First Wednesday of each month

 * NALA Team Quiz In St Vincent Sterlanges

at the Auberge le St Vincent, 1, place de la Mairie, St Vincent Sterlanges. 

Maximum of 6 per team,   2.50 per person. It starts at 8 PM. Fish and Chips etc available from the Vendée Chippie from 6 PM.

... and every second Thursday of each month

 * NALA Team Quiz In Mouilleron en Pareds 

at the recently reopened bar, Le Clemenceau, in Mouilleron en Pareds. Start time will be 7.30pm max number per team 6, and fee of €3 per person. 

If you have not tried the quiz or the bar why not give it a go.

 Come and join Nala; together we are stronger!

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For those of you who haven't yet renewed their membership, please fill in the form here

Or if you want to call us first for information: Tel nr. 07 70 31 54 59 or email

© NALA 85480, February 2015, Bournezeau 
Tél.  07 70 31 54 59
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