An association in the Tarbes area, Les Amis provides complementary support services to refuges; with helpers providing foster homes, finding families to adopt a pet, walking dogs in refuges, raising money for vets’ fees and other necessities or acting as part of the network of drivers, often over long distances.
It works mostly with Tarbes North SPA animal welfare group but will take dogs from other branches. Its Facebook page and website have details on animals needing adoption and other ways to help out.
Ms Eccles says she was amazed to find out how much is done behind the scenes at the refuges: “I got involved with a call on Facebook for anyone to transport a collie across France. I volunteered and picked up a very scared dog in the drizzle at a Carcassonne sports shop, the dog having been brought from the Tarbes area by another volunteer.
“I then transported him to Narbonne and he was taken onto Aix-en-Provence in other members’ cars and settled into a good home.”
This first contact encouraged her to get back in touch with Les Amis des Animaux, when she started looking for a dog for herself: “I went over to stay with the president, Lynn Hull, who has worked professionally with dogs and works amazingly hard to help cats and dogs in need.
“Initially I was looking for a small dog but fell in love with a photo of Bella, an 18-month-old spaniel/setter/ collie cross. She was initially a street dog, roaming for her food so took some time to get her stomach to accept dog biscuits and only a little meat but I think we have it cracked.”
Since then she has worked more with Les Amis des Animaux and said they were always looking for emergency foster homes as boxes of puppies or kittens just keep arriving.