The association Resto des Zanimos, based in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne, Occitanie) - which usually cares for stray dogs - has set up a Facebook page to bring together volunteers offering to care for the pets of people who are continuing to provide frontline services during the coronavirus outbreak.
It is also offering pet care for people who have been hospitalised due to the virus.
The association set up the free service after realising that frontline workers may be working more hours than usual, and/or may be too tired or busy to walk or care for their pet after a long day or night shift, or may be forced to leave their pet alone at home for many hours.
Similarly, pets of hospital patients are at risk of being left at home with no-one to care for them.
In three days, more than 60 volunteers answered the call. Responsibilities may include everything from regular or occasional feeding, short walks (within the restrictions of confinement), administering essential pet medication, clipping of nails, and even taking in a pet into your home for several nights.
Most pets, including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, and even ferrets, are all likely to be accepted if volunteers can provide adequate care.
Valérie Livert, president of Resto des Zanimos, told news source 20 Minutes: “We believe there is a need, and the idea is also to ensure that animals do not pay the price [of this epidemic].”
Because of the restrictions of confinement, priority will be given to people living as close as possible to the pets in need. Ms Livert said: “We are especially asking neighbours of healthcare workers to volunteer.”
Explaining the decision to offer the same service to hospitalised patients, Ms Livert said: “For example, a woman called us to explain that her mother lives in Toulouse, but had just been hospitalised in Dax, so we are going to look after her dog [while she is being treated].”
More information on how to contact the charity and potentially arrange help if you need it - or to offer your volunteer services - is on the Facebook page.
The details given are 07 82 10 48 62 or email@example.com. The association is also taking private messages through its Facebook page.
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France