Gennevilliers (Hauts-de-Seine), report
Holding a dog with a cream coat on a leash, a young couple approaches the porch. Their steps are hesitant, their faces confused. “ We come to give you our animalwhispers the man. We are not coming… » His voice knots. He can no longer utter a word. At his side, the woman wipes away a tear rolling down her cheek with the back of her sleeve. She doesn’t dare look into the lively, playful gaze of the animal. In the distance, barking escapes from the kennel.
Rarely the Humane Society (SPA) had never experienced such a summer season. In the sixty-three shelters that dot the territory, everywhere the observation is the same: abandonments are exploding and adoptions are in freefall. Already more than 12,000 animals have been collected since the beginning of the summer, for a capacity of 7,000 residents.
“ We are completely saturated », warns Emma Goulard, employee of the Gennevilliers-Grammont refuge, at the gates of Paris. Normally, the establishment accommodates eighty dogs and a little over a hundred cats. Today, it has 111 and 186 respectively. “ We try to free up as much space as possible, right and left, including in offices », continues the young woman, her breath jerky, cleaning a cage. Beads of sweat are beading on his forehead. “ At some point, we won’t have any other choice. Entry will have to be stopped… »
- Hermè was dropped directly at the SPA by his masters, in July 2022. © Emmanuel Clévenot/Reporterre
Behind the scenes of the refuge, a real race against time is being played out. And for good reason: when a stray animal is found on the public highway, it is impounded for a legal period of eight working days, in order to ensure that no owner shows up. Once this period has elapsed, the animal is considered abandoned and can be placed with competent associations, such as the SPA. “ As we are saturated, we have to refuse somedetails Julie Rojo, the team leader. The pound then risks euthanizing them to free up boxes, in order to accommodate new arrivals who have not yet reached their legal deadline. »
A prison-like refuge
This multiplication of abandonments in the heart of summer has a simple explanation: “ Some people redouble their imagination to justify their choice, but when you dig a little deeper, you understand that they are in a hurry to get rid of their animal to go on vacation. », says Julie Rojo, who coordinates the twenty-five employees of the shelter. An act with tragic consequences for the well-being of these little beasts: “ We do our best to improve their daily life, we try to walk them once a day in the public park close to here. But we must not be naive: some dogs live very badly confinement. »
Past the reception with colorful walls, a much less warm atmosphere is revealed. The dogs are locked up in small soulless cages. Their only horizon is a silvery fence, which the crushing sun never ceases to make sparkle. Their pads rest on a concrete slab. Sprinkler pipes, placed on the roof, have been transformed into misters, essential with the heat wave. A few days ago, a dog came close to feeling unwell. Fortunately, the animal agents and the veterinarian are watching over the grain.
- The cages, concrete and metal, take on the appearance of a prison. © Emmanuel Clévenot/Reporterre
On one wall, some graffiti on a pink background try to soften this prison-like place. A prison whose length of stay is unknown. Most cats are adopted fairly quickly. For dogs, it’s a different story. On a placard darkened by the years, “ JODIE » is written in capital letters. She is the dean of the refuge, an Anatolian shepherd who arrived here on July 2, 2017. “ A little blue-eyed husky can leave in two days, but not everyone is so luckysays Julie Rojo. Fortunately, other people come in the process of saving an animal, whether it is old or not very beautiful. »
- Arrived in 2017, Jodie is the dean of the refuge. © Emmanuel Clévenot/Reporterre
From kennel to foster families
Marine and Pierre spent their last evenings going through the small presentation sheets on the refuge’s website. Here they are now zigzagging between the cages. “ We wouldn’t want to fall for a crush, only to finally bring it back three weeks later »they confide, squatting in front of the cage of Luna, found by the pound in March.
A volunteer behaviorist, Catherine Santelli is there to support them. As soon as she can, she comes to advise the adopters in their way of apprehending the first days of an adoption. “ Forcing the dog out of the car, getting into the elevator, cuddling him or washing him because he doesn’t smell good… All these little gestures, however insignificant, should be avoided. You have to respect a time of adaptation and understand that they have sometimes been traumatized by humans. » On his knees, a ratter-dachshund cross is being pampered. “ His name is Jagger, like the Rolling Stonesshe smiles. He came from the pound two months ago, the first time I saw him… he bit me. »
- Marine and Pierre, who came from Nogent-sur-Marne to adopt a dog. © Emmanuel Clévenot/Reporterre
Retired, Gilbert Sanchez came from Aulnay-sous-Bois with his little girl in search of a new companion: “ I had a dog for seventeen years. I had promised myself not to take it again, given the pain that his departure represented. And then, two years later, I finally broke down. »
Away from the kennel, in a small enclosure where a few plastic toys litter the artificial grass, Claude plays with Kit-Kat, a 4-year-old griffin. “ Before an adoption, we closely study the profile of people, we organize a first contact in the enclosure, then a walk in the parkspecifies Julie Rojo. Once these steps are completed, if all goes well, the animal can leave with its new family. » Finally, a financial contribution of 250 euros will be requested from Claude, in order to cover part of the vaccination and sterilization costs. “ I can’t wait to take him for a run in the forest, he deserves a new life. »