Meeting of Mme Bouyer Sophie, Mr Traynard Sylvain, Mr Blot Bernard and Mr Seguy Etienne of the DDPP with NALA Mr Franks Nigel and Mme De Haan Marit on the 20th of may 2014

It was an introductory and mostly informative meeting with Mme Boyer the new Director of the DDPP, who started in her post in December last year.

We explained the purpose of NALA which is: helping animals of people who are not able to keep their animals (within our limitations) and improving the system as we have discovered over the last 3 years that there are weak points in the system. In some towns animals are not an important topic. We have given an example of a dog found in a certain town, that was reported to the mayor, who took it. However a few days later the same dog was found straying in a neighbouring town. Another weakness is that most of the mayors in the Vendée do not have a system to help stray cats. We spoke about the recent case in Saint Paul en Pareds where a town hall did not want to help when a cat was found with an illegal trap hanging from his paw. We reported this case to the Préfet. We said we will continue to do so if any other town halls refuse to help people when they find an animal on the public road.

The DDPP waited until the mayors have settled in after the elections to start an information campaign to instruct the mayors on their responsibilities with regard to stray animals. The campaign will take place in autumn this year. We suggested the use of a document published by the ministry of interior and the ministry of agriculture, that appeared in October 2012

We have pointed out that to be able to save animals, put them up for adoption, the law depends on associations, volunteers, donations. This is a weakness in the system. It can not be expected that only the associations/volunteers put all their energy, time and money into saving animals and no help comes from the side of the central government, the Conseil Général, the Préfecture and the mayors. NALA has recently started a subsidy program for the sterilisation and identification of cats. We asked the director whether she can have it on her conscience that people put their private money into programs like this to decrease the number of abandoned cats and kittens, while the authorities do nothing and in the mean time euthanasia is standard practice in the fourrières (pounds) because they are full. Especially on the point of prevention and public awareness, the authorities, like the DDPP and the Conseil Général could and should play an important role.

We reported a case where an association has to pay for taking animals from a fourrière in the 44 department. While not illegal, this is of course a real abuse of the system.

The primary role of the DDPP is to make sure that rules and laws are respected. Since 2012 the identification of all cats and dogs is obligatory. We brainstormed about how it would be possible for the DDPP to control that people respect this obligation. We gave the example of the Netherlands where animal owners have to report their animal to the town hall. Vets play a part in informing, but they are not independent (they will gain financially from the fact that animals need to be identified). The message should come from an independent party: the government as it is the law. This is something that needs to be investigated.

We talked about the ads on Leboncoin where people are giving away kittens and cats/puppies and dogs that are not identified or vaccinated. The director acknowledged that here is where the authorities such as the DDPP could do something. We informed that NALA has sent a letter to the director of Leboncoin with a copy to the Company Schibsted ASA (Norvway), which owns Le Bon Coin and to the MInistry. We got a reply back from the Ministry. 

We reported a page on Facebook also giving away kittens and puppies without identification: Donner animaux dans le 85 .

The DDPP deals with several cases per year of owners that neglect their animals. The case of the 2 dogs of Fontenay Le Comte was mentioned and the dogs of Mouilleron en Pareds. The authorities need a legal decision to be able to claim an animal/take the animal away from its owner. 

The request of NALA to all the town halls for their register is for the purpose of getting statistics of found and lost animals in the last 12 years, no more no less.

We have spoken about the “Beaufour” case. No news from the side of the DDPP. The DDPP has found no evidence against him.... We were asked to ask some questions from another association:  

  • would it be possible that the fourrière keeps animals only for the required maximum of 8 days instead of releasing animals after 3 weeks or a month. It seems that when animals leave the fourrière they are very thin.

  • Also what happened to the kittens of a female cat that entered the fourrière. The mother was given to an association. Of the kittens there is no sign.

  • It seems that cats are put together in the same cage

  • And would it be possible to have animals vaccinated when they leave the fourrière. This would avoid a lot of problems in the refuges. The DDPP stated that as it is not a legal obligation this would be difficult

The topic of euthanasia was once again discussed. The DDPP has the opinion: if there are no structures/associations to take out all the animals of the fourrières, euthanasia is the only option. We contested this opinion as euthanasia out of convenience is illegal. We referred to the Senat report in which the purpose of the legislation is clear :

Il faut enfin noter que l'euthanasie, difficilement évitable dans les fourrières, constitue un problème douloureux et en contradiction avec les exigences de protection animale. Seuls les vétérinaires peuvent pratiquer cet acte. Il est donc apparu utile de préciser que cette euthanasie ne pourra être réalisée qu'après avis du vétérinaire responsable du suivi des animaux de la fourrière, et, en conséquence implicitement, uniquement sur des animaux malades, inadoptables ou dont le comportement pourrait être dangereux ou pour des raisons sanitaires. “

The DDPP stresses that animals from the own department should have priority over animals from countries like Romania when the local refuges are already coping with capacity difficulties.

One of the ways to battle the problem of the many abandonments and overpopulation of cats and dogs in the fourrières is sterilisation. In Belgium a proposal was made by the minister of animal welfare to make sterilisation of cats obligatory. This is already the case for cats in refuges and for kittens sold by professional breeders. France could follow its example. NALA attended a conference in Brussels where many more examples were given of how European countries tackle the problem of abandonment of cats and dogs.

Bournerzeau, 23 May 2014