Document type : Article published in Le Monde (partially free access)
Author: Pauline Gensel
Preview: Since the beginning of the epidemic, many people in France have chosen to take on a pet. Now, though, many of these animals are now to be found living in charity shelters, which have been full up since the beginning of June.
Summer is the season of sunshine, holidays and abandoned pets. Every year, it's the same story and animal welfare organisations record a spike in the number of animals they take in. This summer, animal admissions are breaking all records. Since 1 May, 10,600 abandoned animals have been accommodated by the French Société Protectrice des animaux (SPA), 7% more than during the same period in 2019.
With nearly 7,500 residents, the association's shelters have been at maximum capacity since 1 June, whereas they are usually full only from the last weekend in July. One of the reasons for this increase has been the popularity of pets during successive lockdown periods.
Seen as a remedy for forced isolation, a way to compensate for the absence of affection and companionship, the desire to adopt a furry or feathered companion has been, for some, a result of the lockdowns. This decision has sometimes been taken on the spur of the moment, with no real understanding of the investment involved in introducing an animal into a household. "Some people have allowed themselves to succumb to impulse purchases, especially in pet shops," flaments Daniel Meyssonnier, who heads up the Baux-de-Provence shelter (Bouches-du-Rhône) and is the Secretary of the Syndicat national des professions du chien et du chat:
"We go past a puppy, we think it's sweet, our child begs us to take it. We give in, and after six months, we realise that things are complicated, that it's not the child who's going to look after the dog but the parents. And we end up abandoning the animal."
Adopting a pet is already not easy under normal circumstances. Lockdown added its own set of problems: people and animals had to learn to live in close proximity all day long. Elisabeth, a state-qualified dog behaviourist in Lyon who wishes to remain anonymous, followed the progress of several dogs during successive lockdowns. They were more stressed, more anxious," she says. "Those who were used to being alone had to adapt to the presence of their owners, to noises, to children who were no longer at school...". The lifting of the lockdown and the end of working from home also required an effort to adjust. "For some dogs, it was really very complicated, sometimes they had to be given medication, and go through behavioural therapy..." [rest of article reserved for subscribers].