Many of our members are based in the Poitou-Charentes and Dordogne, but there are little pockets of magic going on in many other areas of the country too.
In Tarbes, there are currently two refuges; both old, rundown and stretched with little time or resources available to improve and upgrade them.
Christelle, a volunteer at one of these refuges had a dream; to create extra space for the abandoned animals of Tarbes in modern, clean and pleasant surroundings.
She set up, and is president of, an association, Le Nouveau Refuge – SPA des Hautes Pyrenees, in June 2014 and spent all of last year searching for land to fulfil the dream, which was not easy. At the same time she was meeting mayors and other “public” people to try to arrange funding and help in getting the refuge up and running, all this whilst as a widow raising three teenagers, holding down a job and still volunteering at the refuge.
She found a suitable site in Ibos and bought it in June of this year, a large plot of land with mature trees that will provide much needed shade in hot weather, and with a very sturdy building at the back which has been gutted and divided by brick walls into kennels; which will be for the “fourrière” and boarding kennels and cattery.
The purchase of the land and the building work is being privately funded by Christelle who has taken out a personal mortgage for the project. The first 6 chalets, out of a total of 21, are up and painted, the fourriere / pension floor has been tiled with gulley’s for the water to run into. The kennel doors have been delivered and attached; the connection to the “mini sewerage” is a work in progress, the chalet for cats to lounge in is in place.
With a lot of help from her team of trusted and hardworking volunteer friends, she is currently working to clear the overgrown ground, including the lopping of lower tree branches. Everyone is very excited that they are revealing grass! That may sound silly but we all know how dogs and cats love grass, so different to the concrete at the other refuges in the area.
Once the refuge is open it will be funded in various ways; hopefully from local communes with a contract for the fourrière ; boarding kennels; annual membership; donations and from adoption fees. Volunteers will also continue to raise money by having stalls at open days at the refuge and other events such as vide greniers.
When the chalets are complete there will be space for 30 dogs for adoption, as well as 20 dogs in the fourrière. There will be two separate enclosures for up to a total of 50 cats, divided between those ready for adoption and those that need treatment or sterilising. They will have access to an enclosed outdoor covered area with grass and trees to climb. A request to increase the number of dogs allowed will be made in 2016 and if accepted the refuge will be able to take up to 200 dogs.
The refuge will have an area for the dogs to run and play and also for people who want to adopt to introduce their current dog(s), if they have one, to the potential adoptee. This area will also be used by the dog trainers to work with difficult dogs and teach the volunteers how to train the dogs with basic commands sit, down stay, walk, on and off leash etc.
The Official Opening day will take place in September although the pound is already in operation. We look forward to an update then.
In the meantime, funding and finding both experienced and non-experienced volunteers for labour, are the biggest challenges. At the moment experienced people are needed to put in place the poles and the fencing for the enclosures, the labour costs are astronomical so if anyone can offer some time, you would be warmly welcomed and a job can be found for you.
The website is under development, but contact details are there and there are regular updates on the facebook page of the association
Email address: email@example.com
Faecbook page: Nouveau Refuge SPA des Hautes Pyrénées