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Scary stats!

It was a quiet start to the week, with two dogs arriving. One of them was reclaimed but the other, a puppy, is still with us. More information on him in due course.

How many of you saw the article in today’s Depeche newspaper, talking about the number of dog and cats who have been abandoned in France this year? There are some very unsettling figures in there. Most shocking of all is that despite endless campaigns  and a recent change in the law, so far this year, the number of animals abandoned is up by 27%. This is an all time record, but not one that anyone should be proud of.

To some extent this can be explained (but not excused) by the fact that France has the highest rate of pet ownership in Europe, with some 10 million cats and 8-9 million dogs. This apparent love of animals would be better illustrated if these animals were not abandoned in their droves each year, particularly in holiday season. In July and August there are approximately 1,000 dogs abandoned per day, believe it or not. And the fact that a common location for animals to be found are the many motorway service stations is all the proof you need that holidays are the reason many people decide to abandon their pet.

A new law introduced in January 2015 changed the status of domestic animals and allows for a fine of 30,000 euros and up to two years in prison. But of course with the courts occupied with “far more pressing matters”, this is seldom if ever imposed. To animal lovers, very few matters seem more pressing, but animal welfare often comes well down a list of priorities.

This is why at the SPA Carcassonne every adoption is greeted with joy and we are hoping for many joyful moments this week.

lots of dogs behind bars

Carl gets a Sunday grooming

As usual on a Sunday, at least three Sundays out of four when the SPA is closed, we reflect on the week that has just passed. Highlights of the week were undoubtedly the adoptions of two long termers Phoebe and Kate. And incredibly, the two of them arrived within a week of each other back in May last year. What a coincidence that they should leave within a couple of days of each other.

Regardless of how long the dogs are at the SPA, we love hearing news and receiving photos. Let’s face it, all the dogs have had hard times of some description, otherwise the SPA would not have featured in their lives at all.

Although his recent stay with us was very brief, I suspect that Storm has never been as happy as he is now. Just look at this photo. It should bring a smile to the face of every single person who believes in second chances!

Despite the SPA’s being shut, there has been activity behind the scenes, as usual. Thanks to Dominique there are wonderful new album covers for many of our dogs on the SPA Facebook page, including some newly highlighted older dogs, who are looking for homes urgently. Don’t forget that older dogs leave for a special senior adoption fee of just €80.

Not only that, employee Angelique sneaked into the SPA on her day off to do some volunteer grooming, and has worked her magic on Carl. He is a gorgeous German shepherd who is just over a year old and as well as being fine with other dogs, he is cat friendly too. Perhaps Angelique’s efforts will help him attract a home in double quick time, but in any case he must surely feel more comfortable without all his winter fur.

And tomorrow another week begins with some departures already scheduled.

Storm enjoying life after the refuge. 
Dog lying on his back








Groomer Angelique’s Sunday was well-spent.

germand shepherd before and after.

Four adoptions, including KATE

Well, surely everyone must have guessed who the lucky dog was alluded to in yesterday’s blog. After 15 months at the SPA, Kate finally left the refuge today. For those of you who did not know, on Thursday a puppy was in urgent need of a blood transfusion, and when the vets phoned the SPA, it was decided to take Kate to help out. After which she went straight back into her kennel; which seemed such a shame!

Carole wrote a Facebook appeal which was spread far and wide. Although there were three calls to offer a home to Kate, by the time the first of these was received, Kate had already been reserved by a family who knew nothing about her recent activity! They came to the SPA and fell in love with Kate and their decision was confirmed when Carole told them about her heroics! I guess it was just her turn!

Everyone is delighted for her, of course and her sponsor mum, Isa, even took a detour from her weekend away to say goodbye to her favourite dog.

Another lucky dog today was Banco. She had caught the eye of a family on Thursday and today they came back to see how she was with their own BIG dog. Little Banco was a bit nervous at first (she shares with another small dog), but she soon gained confidence, and off she went.

Funnily enough her new family chose between Banco and Flora, and as it turned out, Flora was the next to leave! Yes, looking resplendent after her recent “do” by Angelique and with a new harness, Flora’s new life starts here. What a change from the scruffy dog who was found with her friend Fonzy exactly one month ago today.

Finally it was the turn of Filou, the Lhassa Apso, who was abandoned just over a week ago. Yes, it didn’t take him long to find a new home.

With just one arrival, today was a great end to the week.

Kate – ADOPTED (after 15 months)
black dog with family











small wire haired dog










small brown dog










Filou (aka Lol) – ADOPTED

black lhassa


Flora is transformed

Many of you know of Angelique, our volunteer groomer, who does such amazing work on some of our scruffier dogs. What you might not know is that as of a few weeks ago, Angelique has been working part time at the SPA. Not as a groomer, I hasten to add. Much as we think aesthetics are important, grooming is very much a luxury add on. Angelique’s free time is much more limited nowadays, but such is her dedication that she pops in when she is off duty to do some grooming. Yay!

Flora was done in two sessions, as hand stripping can be very time consuming, especially on a dog in Flora’s state. Yesterday it was mission accomplished, and beautiful Flora can be seen in all her glory. Many thanks to Angelique, and let’s hope it is not too long before her latest “client” finds a home.

There were no adoptions today, sadly, but we had four reservations. Three of them are recent arrivals, but one of them is of a long timer, who perhaps deserves a home more than most of our dogs, due to her (clue number one) recent heroics (clue number two).

Can you guess who it is yet? Facebookers will know, I am sure! The rest of you…watch this space!

Flora – Before and After. 
small brown dog looking scruffy then looking lovely.

Three wonderful adoptions

Well today just about made up for the disappointment of yesterday’s five arrivals, none of which were reclaimed, incidentally.

In Saturday’s blog we mentioned that Chinet’s kennel mate, Big, was also reserved. And today was his BIG day. For a dog who had been found tied up in a ditch without food or water, today is quite a change!

Second to leave, and the reservation that was alluded to yesterday, was Diesel. This young lad was abandoned about 10 days ago by his owner who did not have time to look after him. When the appointment was made to bring the dog in we were told that Diesel was a five month old golden retriever. So he wasn’t quite what we expected, but none the less welcome despite this! In the photos this young lad (an eight month old shepherd cross, in fact) is hanging his head, looking depressed. Horrible to see.

How lucky for him that someone came along on Tuesday and fell in love with him. Otherwise he could have had a long wait, and although I am sure we would have cheered him up (probably by mixing him with another dog and taking him on walks), it is far far better that he has a loving home to go to. Look at the change in the two photos, although this lad is not stupid; his adopter admitted that it was his sad expression that drew her to him!

The third adoption brought a smile to just about everyone’s face. Phoebe has finally found a home after one year, three weeks and three days. This young shepherd cross was a favourite of just about everyone and has been DRC’s urgent appeal on more than one occasion. In all likelihood she would have been adopted recently but for the reaction of the family’s other dog. Phoebe just ticked so many boxes; good with cats, good with people and dogs, no pulling on the lead…What was not to like. Her only “fault” is the fact that she looks similar to many other dogs at the SPA.

Her time finally came and she left for her new home today.

We did have an arrival, a handsome setter cross  who was found in a popular dog-walking area. Perhaps he is just lost, but as he is not identified (grrrr) all we can do is wait and hope.

Big large male golden labrador








Diesel being miserable in his kennel and then once he knows he is free!

13908982_1169065303136480_5632081268050934993_o IMG_0628











Phoebe – ADOPTED (after over a year)
dog with smiling woman









New arrival – Mark

white setter cross with balck head

Five Arrive

Well, after so many “good” days, this day was bound to come. Today we had five arrivals, of whom only one is identified and so far the owner is uncontactable and likely to remain so. Photos of them all have been taken (thanks, Team!) and will be uploaded soon, but so far we know of a pointer and also a malinois and her female pup. Maybe some of them will be reclaimed, but if not, that is five more good homes needed.

We hate not having good news to tell you, but as there were no adoptions today, we have to rely on you to help us out. Luckily many of you keep in touch, and we hope you are happy for us to share your photos on the blog.

Firstly here is a picture of Daïna, who moved to Denmark and changed her name to Dea. Her owner describes her as being the pot of gold at the end of her rainbow, which is beautiful. And we have also received this great picture of Toby (ex Pulco), who is enjoying a bit of sightseeing.

So no good news today, but if you read the blog tomorrow we will have news of a great adoption; and that is the one we know about. Perhaps there will be more!

beautiful dog looking at rainbow












dog looking round ruins



A sweet start to the week.

Incredibly but rather wonderfully there have still  not been any arrivals this week, and today we had an adoption!

Sweety was found and brought in with her friend Patty at the beginning of July. They were found wandering lost and alone on the Carcassonne ring road, so we have no idea of their history. Perhaps their owner was leaving on holiday and found the dogs to be an inconvenience. Who knows. In any case, as both dogs were unidentified, once the ten days’ pound time was over, it was time for them to look for a new home.

Sweety caught the eye of a visitor a few weeks ago but adoption was only possible if she was good with cats. She appeared to be just fine, so then it was just a case of waiting for her new family to return from holiday. They were so excited at the prospect of their new dog that they cut their vacation short to take her home earlier than planned! Wonderful!

Finally many thanks to Andrew for his generous donation which arrived via Paypal this morning. He and wife Veronique first fostered then adopted Megan just over three years ago and are delighted with her. As for Megan, it looks like she is quite happy with how things worked out. However sad it is to see dogs in cages at the SPA, many of them are better off here than where they were before, and at least they are on their way to a better life.

Sweety – ADOPTED








Megan is happy! 

Big black nose with dog attached!

Taking the plunge

As Moira mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the SPA was closed today for the bank holiday. However as sometimes happens, a few volunteers decided to spend the afternoon at the refuge.

Volunteers often arrive at the SPA with fixed plans of what we will do during the afternoon, but then we get distracted. Of course we all love the SPA when there are lots of visitors, people meeting dogs and cats with a view to adoption, and of course the magical moments when animals leave with their new homes. But very often the time passes far too quickly and the afternoon comes to an end without us having done those things we had planned to do. Today was a chance to rectify that.

First order of business was to see if any dogs had arrived since the SPA closed on Saturday evening. Naturally the employees were present both yesterday morning and this morning, so the dog would have been fed and kennelled. But they are rigorous about noting all new arrivals in the diary, so it was good news to see a big blank page. No arrivals- great (although that could well change by tomorrow morning)

Next up was getting dogs into the parks for a play! Some dogs take a bit more persuasion to enter the swimming pools than others, and today lovely Ezio was gradually cajoled into the taking the plunge. He soon realised that water was not something to be scared of, and he loved his relaxing massage!

Many other dogs had a play or a swim, and although we are always sad to not be able to get all the dogs out, I know at least a few who will have happy, tired dreams tonight.

While we were down in the parks a kind person came to donate some dog and cat food. Sorry we were not there to say thank you in person, but thank you for thinking of us on your day off!

Back to business as usual tomorrow and let’s hope for a repeat of last week as far as the number of adoptions is concerned!

Ezio having a relaxing massage!

Dog in bath smiling










And this donation arrived

sacks of animal food

Sunday snips…

It really has been another great week for adoptions. Is this and because people are coming back from holidays and settling down again or is it just luck…time will tell!

We have already had news from Nikki who adopted Dreyfus ex Omega, a Griffon Nivernais who she hoped would be a great playmate for Shadow.

Dreyfus was adopted ‘unseen’ which means that Nikki was really relying on us being very honest about the dog and thinking carefully about whether he could integrate relatively seamlessly into the family’s life. This is quite a responsibility and one that we don’t take lightly but when I drove Dreyfus over to meet Nikki and Shadow on Tuesday I was fairly confident that all would go smoothly.

We are a big fan of careful introduction so we met Nikki and Shadow on neutral ground, had a nice relaxed walk and a picnic! The dogs got on well, we had a good blether and off they went!

Dreyfus and Shadow are getting on really well, playing together and are already good friends. Here is what Nikki says about their progress..

‘Dreyfus got the all clear from the vet today and he sang the praises of SPA Carcassonne for a very efficient dossier and a lovely dog ! Dreyfus was not so keen on his bath when we got home , but he smells oh so much better ! He adores Shadow , who is doing a good job of just the right amount of playing and a bit of discipline. Happy days ’

This weekend is also the anniversary of my grand-doggy Melba arriving in Scotland. Melba, a Braque Allemand went to live with my son Stuart three years ago. Melba joined Milly a Spa kitten but feline company wasn’t enough for Melba who really loved the company of other dogs, so Jess, a lovely little border collie who was in foster with Isa joined them and all are doing well. Both Melba and Jess love life on the Scottish hills!

We also have a little reminder that if you find a stray dog it’s not a case of finders keepers. You need to check for identity and liaise with your Mairie who will tell you which SPA your village adheres to. It’s also well worth checking chien perdu ( http://www.chien-perdu.org/) and Pet Alert 11 on facebook.

Tomorrow being a ‘jour férié’ the SPA is closed but back to business a usual on Tuesday!

Melba and Jess  on Sgurr nan Ceannaichean


Three Saturday adoptions

After a day with no adoptions we finished the week with three!

The adoption of Nikita (now Lily) was already planned; she was the dog who had been chosen on Thursday but had to wait for the end of the 10 days’ pound time. Today she was sterilised and left with her new owner after the minimum amount of time spent at the SPA. Lucky her.

The second departure had a bit longer to wait, but not by much. Boudin was one of the jack russells who had been flung over the SPA wall at the end of July. Today he too left for a new home, and he will soon put his bad experiences behind him.

Two visitors who are spending a weekend in Carcassonne came along to walk dogs today, and being border collie lovers (and owners), they wished to take out Chinet and her kennel mate, Big, for their first walk (they have only just had their second vaccination). On their return, Chinet saw her chance; a man who was looking for a smallish female dog to adopt. She jumped into his arms, and when he wasn’t quite convinced, jumped into the arms of his daughter. Pretty soon she had persuaded them that she was THE ONE and off she went to her new home. She left behind two very happy dog walkers!

Big is reserved already, by the way, so don’t feel bad for him!

So it was a lovely afternoon and lots of dogs were walked as well.

Oh, some of you may have noticed on the SPA Facebook page that Kenzo the golden retriever is back for adoption. He is not at the SPA, lucky for him. Carole has stepped back into the role of foster mum after his adopters were unable to keep him due to an unexpected change in circumstances. Whatever we think of this, our priority is finding a good and permanent new home for this lovely dog who has only just turned one.

Let’s hope he, like today’s lucky dogs, soon has a home of his own.

Nikita (now Lily) – ADOPTED
small fluffy white dog









Boudin – ADOPTED

jack russell









Chinet – ADOPTED

border collie









And Kenzo – back in foster

golden retriver