In France, nothing is more sacred than the summer vacation and families often go to great lengths to keep the tradition alive. Even, in many cases, to the extent of abandoning pets by the roadside.
According to rescue shelters, more than 100,000 pets are abandoned each year in France. Last summer 60,000 pets were dumped at the roadside or in service areas before or during the summer holidays.
France’s Society for the Protection of Animals last week issued an urgent appeal for funds, having taken in 12,000 unwanted pets since the start of the summer.
“Many shelters are desperately short of space and are expanding their facilities to try to save as many animals as possible. Every year, shelters redouble their efforts to cope with saturation and take in animals in peril. Today, the situation is alarming,” the SPA said. “We urgently need to save, feed and care for all victims of abandonment and abuse.”
Another cause of pet abandonment is the squeeze on family budgets as households struggle to pay utility bills.
And in far too many cases pets are abused by their owners and suffer terrible neglect and physical cruelty.
The Brigitte Bardot Foundation recently reported on the case of Heidi, a 16 year-old dog that spent 24 hours a day locked in a bathroom and was beaten for defecating or peeing.
On a recent visit to a Foundation outside Paris, France’s Minister of Transport warned of severe penalties: “There are still thousands of abandonments in France each year and mainly in summer … many people are still departing for holidays and leaving their pet by the side of the road or in motorway service areas,” Beaune said. “It is unacceptable. Those who abandon will be severely and heavily punished.”
The problem is finding the culprits.
PHOTO: Heidi, courtesy of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation