animal abandonment up, adoption down

“I present to you Thor, a young Creole type dog! He looks a bit like a shepherd cross. He is sociable and very happy so we expected him to be gone for a while now.” At the SPA refuge in Plaisir (Yvelines), in May 2022, more and more animals are struggling to find a family and are staying much longer than normal. Here, as throughout the country, adoptions are down 4% over the first four months of the year compared to 2021. Abandonments are on the rise.

The reason ? Inflation. People say they are parting with their pets because of rising prices. The manager of the refuge, Ninon Rueff, has examples of this regularly.

“A gentleman explained to me that because of inflation, he knew he would no longer be able to afford to maintain his rabbit. In anticipation of this, he called to make an appointment to ‘to give up.”

Ninon Rueff, manager of the SPA refuge in Plaisir (Yvelines).

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While 6,000 dogs and cats are up for adoption throughout France, the financial issue is often one of the arguments for abandonment. “People will tell me that they cannot afford to support their animal, either for one-time veterinary expenses because the animal had an accident, or because of a change in circumstances, such as job loss.” Currently, the Plaisir kennel is therefore full, with 90 dogs accommodated.

To make room before the traditional summer wave of abandonments, the 63 shelters of the SPA are organizing an open house weekend on May 21 and 22, after two years marked by the health crisis. During the last organized days, in 2019 (i.e. before the Covid-19 pandemic), nearly 1,700 dogs and cats had found a new home.

Another solution proposed by the SPA: the permanent host family. “It is to allow animals in failed adoption to find a family”describes Ninon Rueff. “In these cases, the SPA takes care of the veterinary aspect related to the pathology of the animal.” A dog that has been at the shelter for more than two years is part of the device. “His pathology – a food allergy – is, in addition to his age, a very important obstacle to his adoption.” With this innovation, the SPA hopes to find him a new family. “It would also allow us to free up a box”argues Ninon Rueff.

Murielle, she crosses the door of the shelter without being sure to take the step of adoption. “We lost our dog a year ago and I’m coming to see”, she slips shyly. But she soon comes across a dog that seems to please her. “Look how handsome he is!”she launches immediately. “He’s gorgeous but I don’t think he fits in my car.” However, this is one of the miracles of the SPA: this does not prevent it from finding a new home.

Open doors in the 63 SPA refuges in France. The report by Valentine Letesse.

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