WHILE dogs are mostly banned from French beaches the animal charity 30 Millions d’Amis has compiled a map of 167 plages which welcome pets for at least for part of the day.
The map was made in a bid to reduce the 60,000 cats and dogs that are dumped each year, often beside roads on the way to holiday resorts as families realise the problem of trying to find a space on a beach or park that is open to pets.
The dumping of so many animals overwhelms animal shelters with thousands of animals arriving every week during summer. One refuge said that owners had even thrown a puppy over a high fence into its grounds.
The charity aims to show that people and their pets can enjoy a holiday together. The map also lists animal friendly hotels and restaurants. Gites are now obliged by law to allow pets to stay but they may charge extra for cleaning if a pet is included.
There are, however, restrictions on taking a dog on a beach as they must be kept on a lead or face a €11 fine. Some beaches are open for dogs only at certain times – generally early morning or later when it is quieter.
Few beaches will allow dogs in the water alongside bathers but you can ask the maître-nageur in charge or check the signs. On the beach, think of the dog’s comfort: keep it in the shade; if it goes in the water make sure to rinse off the seawater with clean fresh water to avoid any irritation from salt or sand.
Decisions on whether dogs are allowed on the beach or in the water are made by the local mayor and the main reason for objection is the risk to the European blue flag for clean water. One commune in Morbihan says it has banned dogs from the water because of the risk that dog faeces, which carry bacteria, will affect tests on water quality that all beaches face throughout the summer.
Owners are asked to be on their best behaviour and make sure to clear up and not leave dog mess on the beach. Réha Hutin, president of the 30 Millions d’Amis foundation, said owners had to be “irreproachable”.
People should come down hard on those who do not clear their dog’s mess after them.
About 100,000 pets are abandoned each year in France, with 60,000 in the summer – the highest number in Europe.
Find the map of dog-friendly beaches at www.30millionsdamis.fr Click Mon Animal et Moi then the drop-down menu Carte-Vacances