In the sunny South West of France, something is afoot, or more accurately, apaw!
It all started when a Phoenix and Hope fosterer chose to spend a special birthday walking dogs at her local refuge, rather than hold a party to celebrate.
Lots of people who wouldn’t ordinarily think to do so, joined together to give these dogs, some of whom have been there for months or even years, a taste of fresh air and a chance to test their pulling power.
We had a wonderful afternoon and think we walked about 70 dogs between us.
As a direct result of that afternoon, a number of people have started volunteering regularly, walking dogs or cuddling cats that so desperately need some exercise and attention.
As you can imagine, going to a refuge and smelling and hearing hundreds of dogs in small cages can be quite daunting. You’d also think it would be upsetting, and I admit I often get quite emotional, but the feeling of doing something, even giving such a small gift of time, is amazing and it is seriously addictive. I’ve spent quite a few hours at a couple of refuges now. Of course there are some sad cases, but the majority of the dogs are wagging their tails with excitement, hopeful that they will get a walk. It makes a huge difference to the animals, by keeping them interested in life, socialised and interacting with people, thus making them more attractive to someone looking for a new pet.
It also makes a big difference to volunteer with someone. Since that first walk at the end of November, we’ve setup a website and Facebook page, in the hope that we can have groups of volunteers in as many refuges around the country as possible.
There are over 900 refuges according to Seconde Chance, most of which would be delighted for you to go along and offer to walk their dogs or spend time socialising the cats.
Of course, you WILL want to take some of them home, but obviously you can’t save them all. What you can do is talk about what you’re doing, make your friends and family aware of the gorgeous pets waiting for a new home. Remember that feeling from just walking the dogs? Imagine the one you’d get if you actually help get just one of them in to a loving home. It’s certainly all the thanks I need.
If you’d like to join us, we will welcome you with lots of open arms around the country. There are areas we need to get our feet in, so if you already volunteer at a refuge near you, please let us know as we may have someone just waiting for someone to give them the confidence to go through those gates for the first time and make a huge difference to the animals waiting in there.
LAARF – Les Amis des Animaux des Refuges en France
Website – www.LAARF.com (With a link to our Facebook oage) Email – firstname.lastname@example.org