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Author Archives: Moira

Keep your pets safe on 14th July!

Warning..tomorrow night will be very scary for animals in France!

France commemorates the start of the French Revolution with a national holiday on 14 July. So there will be mass celebrations up and down the country which inevitably involve fireworks!

At the SPA we prepare ourselves as we know that we’ll get a large number of stray animals and lost dog reports on Thursday for animals that got spooked with the fireworks and happened to be outside at the time. Last year on the 15th we had 11 reports of lost dogs and then more during the week as people realised their dogs weren’t going to come home on their own!

As a responsible dog owner, please do everything in your power to protect your dog tomorrow night which will be filled with loud bangs, pops and sizzles!  Remember, your dogs hearing is 10 times more sensitive than yours!

Your best bet is to keep your dog indoors somewhere where he is likely to do the least amount of harm to himself, and your house! You should also turn on the TV or a radio, with the volume turned up loud to make it less likely that he will be able to hear the fireworks outside. Since the flashing lights can scare your dog just as much s the loud noises, be sure to close all the curtains and blinds inside your home and turn ON all the lights in the room. This will make the bright lights from fireworks less noticeable to your dog. Plus, closed curtains and blinds offer a small degree of sound-proofing in your home, lowering the high pitched sounds a tiny bit.

Here are a few precautions you can take way ahead of time to prepare your dog for this stressful night:

Make sure your dog has his collar and ID tags on. In the worst case scenarios, dogs have been known to chew through crates, doors, and even jump out of windows due to their anxiety.

Let your dog outside to toilet before people start setting off their own fireworks. Have him on a leash, even in the garden.

Exercise your dog earlier in the day by taking him on a longer-than-usual walk. This will tire him out and make him less likely to over-exert himself later if/when he becomes stressed from the sound of fireworks and play some music to drown out the fireworks noise!

So please don’t take any risks, no matter how steady you think your dog is. It’s only one night a year and simply not worth the risk…keep all pets inside and safe!

Tonights good news if that recently adopted Asame, who escaped from his new home has been found as is safe and well!

Carcassonne will be a scary place for dogs tomorrow night!



Not any news from the refuge today so I thought that we would have a look at some FAQ’s..

  1. Why does it cost 170 euros to adopt a dog? Well the short answer is that although we are a charity, like any other business we need to viable. For 170 euros your dog will be identified, vaccinated, had kennel cough, wormed, flea treated and of course sterilised. We also have overhead costs which seem to escalate every year. So the 170 euros is a contribution towards these costs.


  1. Can we take a dog on a trial basis? In theory this seems sensible but we no longer offer this. Mainly because adoption should be a lifelong commitment and we like to make sure that we discuss any foreseeable problems before you adopt. We also offer support after adoption and can talk you through most problems.


  1. Can you transport the dog to me? Yes. Logistics have never been a problem!



  1. Does the dog get on with cats? Well that would need a blog to itself but we can ‘cat test’ the dog to rule out that they are out and out cat haters but most dogs are very intimidated going into the cat house and can seem to be scared or ok. We always advise safe and careful introductions to your cat.


  1. Can I bring my dog to see if he gets on with X? Yes…we encourage adopters to do this and will help you do careful introduction and then advise whether we think the dogs are a good match.


By far the most common request is ‘ I want a female dog, not too big and not one that barks or digs or chews. And not one that sheds, or that isn’t house trained. I have grandchildren so must be ok with children and I also have a cat so not a cat chaser’.


We do get dogs that fall into that category but it may take a little while to find the perfect dog so please bear with us and we will find your perfect pooch!




A Monday Adoption

It would be a miracle if we had as many adoptions this week as last but who knows as its only Monday and we already have the adoption of Tyson.

Tyson was found straying in Limoux but guess what…he was chipped but the owner had moved without leaving a forwarding address!

What a shame as he is a large, friendly, gentle giant who loves everyone and I bet was a very loyal pet!  Never mind, his 5 month stay with us is not as long as some large breed dogs have and he has left with a super forever family.

There are lots of reasons why people cannot keep their dogs. Some are feeble and pathetic but some are genuine and it really is in the best interest of dog that its rehomed.

If you find yourself in this situation please don’t just abandon your dog in the streets or at the gate, please come in and speak to us, we will arrange an admission date and we will ask you all about the dog.

This means that we know what and who your dog likes, if he has lived with children or other pets, if he can be trusted not to roam etc. etc. and we can find him the perfect forever family much quicker.

We have so many families come to us and ask for a dog who is good with children it really increases their chances of spending as little time with us before being adopted.

Adoption is a lifetime commitment, not a decision to be taken lightly so please think how you would cope with your dog should your circumstances change, A little forethought can save many abandonment’s!

On the arrivals front a Jack Russel arrived who is identified so we hope that he will be leaving very soon.

Tyson adopted..



Is your dog’s microchip up to date?

It’s a fact! Lots and lots of contact details on the ICAD and other pet databases are incorrect as owners have forgotten to change them when they move house or the dog changes ownership.

Implanted under the skin, each microchip, the size of a grain of rice, has a unique barcode and 15 digit number. When your pet arrives at the SPA we then use handheld scanners to read the code and trace the contact details held on one of the national pet identification databases.

However we often we find that the details are not up to date and this delay in reuniting pets with their owners can cause additional stress to a lost dog as many find the wait in kennels distressing. Sometimes we simply cannot trace the owners! Whether it’s due to moving house, a change of phone number or owner, it’s important to update this information straight away.

If your dog is already microchipped, you can easily update the stored details by contacting your dog’s registered database directly. Its easy and quick to do and you can often even do it online.

Please remember that all dogs in public places must also wear a collar and tag marked with their owner’s name and address, which can also help lead to a quick reunion. If someone finds your dog wandering, they just need to read the disk, call you ..et voila..your dog is back home!

In the future I am sure that we will have microchips with GPS and we will be able to track our pets from our phones. Lots of people already use GPS trackers for their dogs which are small devices attacked to the dogs collar. If the dog then runs off the owner can track the dog using a computer or smart phone.

Its so very worrying if your dog runs off and gets itself lost so make life easier for yourself, your dog and us by updating your database details.

reading chip


Hot cars….kill dogs!

Tonight is a reminder about dogs being left in hot cars! There is an easy rule on this one…dont do it..not ever!

It can be an easy mistake to make. If you think that you’re only going to be a few minutes, you may feel that it’s safe to leave your dog in a car, even on a warm day. The problem is that it’s far more dangerous to do this than most people realise. A car can heat up astonishingly rapidly, with some vehicles reaching 40°C in just twenty minutes. Dogs cannot sweat: they can only lose heat by panting, and if the ambient temperature around them is high, this means that they cannot lose any heat at all. They’ll pant furiously, but will just get hotter and hotter until they collapse. It’s a dreadful way for an animal to die, and that’s one of the reasons why there’s such an outcry whenever an incident like this is reported in the news.


On a sunny day, leaving a dog in a car is as dangerous as putting the animal into an oven and turning it on “roast”. It’s not enough to leave a window open, or to leave some water inside for the dog. It just gets too hot inside the confined space of a car. Dogs cannot be left in cars on sunny days: end of story.

This message has recently been the focus of a ‘Don’t Cook your Dogs’ campaign by Dogs Today magazine. The aim is to highlight the issue as widely as possible, to prevent more unfortunate dogs from dying. Ignorance of the risk is a common excuse, and the campaign aims to ensure that nobody in any country remains ignorant about it.

So what should you do if you see a dog locked in a hot  car? This is what I would do but its only my opinion. If the car was outside a store I would ask for an announcement to be made asking the car owner to return to the car, if the owner doesn’t appear I would call the police, but if the dog was really distressed I would take a photo or video with my phone, and break a window to get the dog out. Now common sense prevails here, but its better having to replace a window than having a dead dog!

This year, let’s try to avoid any more hot dog crises. Please do not risk leaving your dog in the car at all, leave them at home in the cool!


hot car


Stella and Banjo leave..

In yesterdays blog I mentioned that there were 2 other dogs who were lucky enough to leave.

First to leave was 10 year old Stella. One of the most common reasons for abandoning a dog is divorce and it seemed like poor Stella was to be a victim. However, when one of the parties heard that she was at the refuge they organised themselves and came for her as soon as they could. This is the best possible outcome for Stella, she may have had to spend a little time with us but has gone ‘home’ to someone she knows and who clearly really loves her!

Next to leave was 1 year old Banjo. He arrived in March with a lady who found him and left with her yesterday. Sometimes a dog just pulls at your heart strings so the lady had her entire garden enclosed before adopting him. Now that is sensible and shows commitment!

Next week is going to be hot, very hot. So please remember how dangerously hot your car can become and plan any travel with your dog very carefully.

When you are travelling with dogs in hot conditions there are several ways to ensure that they stay safe but there are also many considerations and sometimes day time travel just too hot and not safe.

Do you have efficient air conditioning, if not how will you keep the car cool enough for the dog. If you don’t, even with windows open, when the ambient air temperatures is in the twenties or above its every hard for dogs to cool themselves.

What happens if you breakdown in searing temperatures where there is no shade, what are you going to do to ensure the dog stays safe?

Well here is what we recommend for very hot days:

No air conditioning, don’t take you dog. Instead travel at night, early morning or late evening.

Take water in a cool box and stop frequently to give the dog a drink.

Check the inside temperature of the car regularly, if it’s too hot stop!

Use cool mats / coats.

Sun visors on the windows can help keep out direct sunlight.

Monitor you dogs all the time!

Keep something in your car to make temporary shade in case you break down…a sun umbrella or a cage with a sheet is ideal.

All these measures will help you stay safe with your dog but if you do have to travel any distance why not travel at night, you may arrive a bit bleary eyed but you will have a less stressed dog! Don’t forget that if you are travelling to the UK at peak times, you may very well have a long queue to check in to the ferry or Eurotunnel.  Yesterday there was a 90 minute delay at border control! Many people aren’t prepared for this and it turns a half hour Eurotunnel ‘crossing’ into a lot longer a journey. Even with air conditioning this is simply too much for many dogs so don’t risk your animal’s health and only travel when you know you can keep them safe!

Stella….home at last!




More midnight manoeuvres!

Well we knew for definite that today we would have at least one adoption! We did in fact have 3 but tonight we will talk about our long timer Gus.  At 1am Darcey crept into the refuge to hand Gus over to the doggie transporter and he is now well on his way to his new home in the UK.

Gus arrived nearly 2 years ago when he was 3. He hadn’t had the best start in life and its been a long wait for him but as they say ‘all good things come to those who wait’ and at last he is off to his forever home in Yorkshire!

Like all of our departures to the UK he left with a DEFRA type 2 licenced transporter under TRACES.  This sounds a lot more complicated than it is. All we have to do is submit a form with passport and health check scans to our local DDCSP  and they issue us with the appropriate paperwork. This ensures that there are no delays at passport control in Calais and that he is a legal ‘import’ as far as DEFRA are concerned. It also ensures that there is no risk of our dogs being seized in Calais and put into quarantine and that we don’t get a very large fine!

I am sure that Gus is going to be very happy with his new mum Jane who is avidly watching his journey on a real time tracker!

Later this month we will have another doggy leaving for the UK in exactly the same way so watch this space!

As Darcey said in yesterday’s blog two years is a long time for a dog to wait but better that and go to the right home. It’s just over a year ago that Blackie went to his new home after three years wait.For any of you nervous about adopting a long termer, have a read of his story in the Life After The Refuge page on our website. The transition from refuge to home life was not at all dramatic, he is very happy and Wendy has a faithful, loyal companion!

I often think that long timers know when they are in the right home and are ever so grateful!

Tomorrow will be about the other two adoptions….and one of them is an oldie, so dont miss it!

Gus….be happy!



Ouch….the 5 second rule!

Today was scorching at the refuge, too hot to walk dogs! We did have two arrivals which we will catch up with tomorrow.

Yesterday we posted hints and tips on ow to keep your dog cool in summer on our pinterest page https://uk.pinterest.com/DRCSPA/keeping-your-dog-cool/

Tonight we want to remind you how quickly the pavement can heat up!






Our dogs still want their daily walk, even during the very hot summer months, but we must consider the temperature of the ground.

Although it may not feel too hot for a walk, always take into consideration the temperature of the surface your dog will walk on. Asphalt temperature and the outdoor temperature are two very different things. When the outside air temperature is 77 degrees, the asphalt can be 125 degrees.

If you can fry an egg at 131 degrees, just imagine how your dog’s feet will feel.


  • Test the asphalt by holding the back of your hand against it for 5 seconds
  • Take walks in the early mornings or late evenings
  • Walk on the grass
  • And, wash and check your dog’s paws regularly.


The pads on dog’s paws are no thicker than our feet, so if the pavement feels hot to your bare feet, then it’s just as hot for your dog!




What to do in the event of a dog attack!

Tonights guest blog is from Shirley, a volunteer and dog trainer…

Something that strikes fear in the heart of any dog owner is a dog fight. Even worse is the possibility of being involved in a dog attack, be that on themselves, another person or their dog.

The second scenario is exactly what happened to me and my small dog recently whilst out walking not far from my house.  As a dog trainer I have no fear of dogs and should know what to do in these circumstances, you will not be surprised to know however that common sense flies out the window, protective instinct takes over and the result was that I was also bitten.

In my particular case my dog was brutally and savagely attacked without warning or provocation but the rules governing what to do afterwards are the same regardless of the circumstances leading up to it. The purpose of this blog therefore is to clarify the procedures to be followed should you ever be unlucky enough to find yourself in this position and so that once the situation is under control you will know the correct steps to take.

What to do

Firstly stop the aggression by whatever means you have to hand without putting yourself at risk and secure the area, assess the situation and attend to injured parties.  If a person has been injured and needs medical assistance, call the SAMU (15)/SAPEURS POMPIERS (18) and also the POLICE (17)if deemed necessary, or use the all services Europe wide number 112 to get appropriate assistance.  If an animal is injured and needs urgent attention then if possible call a local vet.  Vets will not normally come to the scene of an accident but at least you can get advice and warn them of your arrival at the clinic.

You will be worried about the person or dog who has been injured and anxious to get to help but do not leave the scene without  getting details from the attacking dog’s owner (if present), full name, address and telephone number, if possible check their identification.  If they have a mobile phone ask them to call you so you are certain you have been given the correct number.  If there were witnesses take their names and phone numbers too. Take photos!

All of this of course relies on you having a mobile phone with you, I must confess that not being far from home I did not.  I NEVER go out without one now though!!

The injured party/ies have been taken care of.  Now what? 

As soon as possible and within at least 5 days of the incident you should advise your insurers of the attack and write a declaration of the circumstances, accompanied by the details of the dog’s owner and any witnesses etc.  This is so that you can make a claim on their ‘Assurance de Responsabilité Civile’, or Public Liability Insurance, for any medical or veterinary expenses incurred.  Be as clear and concise as possible but stick to the facts.  The dog’s owner also needs to make a declaration to their insurer giving their point of view. If it is clear cut and you can agree on a joint statement this will speed things up enormously.

Assurance de Responsabilité Civile- what you need to do if you have animals

Under your house insurance in France – Assurance Habitation- you are covered, at no extra charge, under the personal liability clause for damage done by pets, in this instance dogs, providing you can prove due care was taken.  If you own a dog therefore you must tell your insurance company otherwise you risk invalidating any claim.

 Who is responsible?

French law states that the person at the end of the lead is responsible for the dog. In simple terms this means that if you look after someone’s dog you could be liable for any damage, accidents, bites etc.  My insurer informs me that just for a simple walk there would be no transfer of responsibility, but for longer periods of care a letter from the owner stating the dog was in your care between certain dates would be necessary to avoid being liable. Do however check with your own insurance company.

 What does French law state regarding dog bites?

Any dog that has bitten a human must be evaluated by a vet.  Three visits are necessary, the first within 24 hours of the bite a second visit after 7 days and a third at 15 days.  After 15 days the vet will (assuming no risk) issue a certificate in triplicate declaring the animal free from rabies.  The copies are destined for the owner, the person who was bitten and the insurance company.

Since 2008 all dog bites whether towards a human or an animal should be declared, by the owner or person looking after the dog, at their local Mairie.  The dog may then be subjected to an evaluation by a vet behaviourist who will determine the level of risk and a certificate issued.  In extreme cases the dog may be euthanised.

Shirley Reddell

Educatrice Canine








Spreading the word..

A few weeks ago Dog Rescue Carcassonne was contacted by Brigitte Hogben, an English teacher at College Antoine Pons in Chalabre, who asked us along to speak about the SPA Carcassonne and rescue animals.

This is a subject close to her heart as she herself adopted Virgule from the SPA Carcassonne, one of our poorly cats who had part of its ears removed due to cancer. She also has 10 rescue dogs and numerous donkeys!

I have to admit my heart skipped a beat when she said it was the 4eme ( 13-14 year olds). How on earth was I going to keep their attention for an hour and would they understand my Scottish accent?

I sometimes help Wanda from ‘vivre a plein temps’ with school visits on safety around dogs but this was to be very different. This was to be about being a volunteer at the SPA, rescuing dogs and being a responsible dog owner and in English that 14 year olds could understand!

So I prepared a couple of presentations with simple bullet points which kept me on track and served as a visual aide for the pupils. We also had a Dog Word Search and some questions and answers with prizes. The children told me about their dogs and cats and chose their favorite dog from the SPA board and said why they liked it.

The class had certainly done their homework before I arrived. They had produced brochures in English for SPA visitors, had learnt the necessary vocabulary and were very proud of their work. Even although it was it big class the children were well behaved, attentive and very interested. Thank you boys and girls..you made my job very easy!

The hour whizzed by and at the end the children presented me with food for the animals at the SPA. Not only that, one young lady asked if she could come along and visit with her parents!

So thank you very much to Brigitte and the headmaster of College Antoine Pons for their enthusiasm about animal rescue and responsible pet ownership.

Children are our pet owners of the future and so its our job to teach them well!

School talk

Well done for such super brochures!


Thank you from the animals at the SPA Carcassonne..

photo (1)