Sometimes we get the impression that the powers that be are far removed from daily reality and the ordinary citizen. Last June we were involved in the case of a mayor who wanted to trap someone's cats and have them put down, without any sort of legal procedure. We helped with an alternative solution, and also asked the appropriate ministry whether such actions by the mayor were legal. I'm sure that you can understand that the ramifications of it being legal are disquieting. However, it's been over six months now and we still haven't had a simple “yes” or “no” answer. In fact, the last reply from the ministry ended with a link to Legifrance with the implication that we should look for ourselves. Not exactly the sort of reply that inspires confidence in politicians and the public service but rather one that serves to demonstrate their lack of interest and contempt.

However, we don't allow such attitudes to discourage us, because recently we've seen some examples of people power. Recently there was a video posted on YouTube of a man in Marseille repeatedly throwing a cat against a wall, breaking its leg. This created a furore on the internet and it didn't take long for him to be identified . He was prosecuted, but it appeared that he was only going to be given a trivial punishment, although the penal code allows a punishment of up to two years in prison and a fine of €30, 000. A petition was launched and within a day had received over 200,000 signatures. On the 3rd of February the offender received a one year prison sentence. Compare this to a case that didn't receive any public attention: in January a man who boasted of killing a number of cats, threw caustic soda over one that he had trapped in a cage, injuring it so badly that it had to be put down. On the 4th of February he was given a 4 month suspended sentence. As you can imagine, this derisory punishment did not go down well with animal lovers and associations for the protection of animals. A petition was started and a protest planned for the 21st of February asking for a review of the sentence. Do these reflect lynch mob justice or are they a sign of justified public concern?

We were also directly involved in a case of people power. Two dogs were being slowly starved to death by their owner in the middle of a town: they were kept in an internal courtyard and not given anything to eat. Although the police had been informed, they claimed that they didn't have the power to take the dogs away... humm compare that with the case of the mayor above. Enter the internet warriors: we received an alert via Facebook one evening and the wires were soon burning. We agreed with some other associations that we would go to see the mayor the next morning. We didn't get the chance... when someone finally got through to the town hall to make the appointment they were told that there had already been so many calls that the mayor was taking action. Solved, or so we thought. However, a few hours later we received a call informing us that the prosecutor had decided that the dogs would be taken to the local animal pound... the very one suspected of putting down animals in an unauthorised manner. As you can imagine, this did not go down well, so the mayor was informed that he had better do something about it. While this was going on we joined the other people who were hanging around outside the house where the dogs were to ensure that the dogs didn't get taken to the pound Finally, we received word that the mayor had pulled some strings and eventually the dogs were taken away to a vet for examination and treatment. They were extremely skinny and the vet reckoned that they were only a couple of days away from starving to death.

Since then they have been well looked after, have put on some weight and been appropriately renamed... “Hope” and “Freedom”.