‘People feed their pets before themselves,’ says French animal charity

The founders of an association that offers animal feed to low-income pet owners are aiming to create a national federation of community outlets.

Secretary and volunteer Charlotte Dufour said: “We are currently looking after 190 members with between 450 and 500 animals.”

People feed their pets before themselves

Cantine des Patounes was founded last year by Corinne Gester and Isabelle Amiot.

The organization, based in Coutances in Normandy, operates in the same way as the Restos du Cœur association, which provides free meals to France’s poorest families.

“The goal is to prevent people from going without food to feed their pets or abandoning their pets because they can no longer feed them,” he said.

“The price of everything has increased, so people are struggling to give their pets quality food.”

Read more: Inflation blamed as number of abandoned pets rises in France

Owners can protect their friends and feed them well

Owners seeking help from Cantine des Patounes are asked to pay €2 per month. In return, they receive enough food to feed their pets at least one meal a day for a month.

Food is distributed on Thursdays and Fridays, as at Restos du Cœur.

Many donors, including Vire-based pet food manufacturer Normandise, are supplying up to 14 tonnes of meat or biscuits, while the E.Leclerc center in Coutances is also donating damaged food boxes.

“This is really pleasing because this service allows them to keep their companions and feed them well,” said Ms. Dufour.

Read more: Record number of animals abandoned in France sparks shock campaign

Action plan to open branches throughout France

With a team of nine volunteers, Cantine is currently helping people in Coutances but has bigger goals.

“Our goal is to become a federation, and later even a foundation,” he said.

Even after it became a nationwide network, Cantine would remain a community-based effort.

“We will need as many volunteers as possible as we will create an action plan to open branches throughout France,” Ms. Dufour said.

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