A French union representing businesses catering to cats and dogs has demanded the government extend a coronavirus-related grant to animal care services, which are currently not eligible as they are not considered part of the tourism sector.
The Syndicat National des Professions du Chien et du Chat (SNPCC) wrote in a press release: “Since the beginning of lockdown...pet boarding houses and pet sitters have remained in great difficulty.”
Emma Robertson, who owns Acorn Kennels and Cattery in Normandy, told The Connexion that the effects of coronavirus on her business have been “fairly catastrophic”.
Ms Robertson, who opened her business in 2005, said that until March she was making a profit. But between March and the end of June her turnover dropped by 86% compared to the same time last year.
She is forecasting that for the months of October, November and December she will have 88% less turnover.
Her kennel and cattery caters for a mixture of British and French clients, but she said this year her British clients have been “basically non-existent”.
“Normally this time of year I am fully booked for Christmas because my British clients all go back to the UK to visit their families. I usually have to make a waiting list,” she said.
“[This year] the British are not leaving. They won’t go back to undertake a two-week quarantine,” she said, referring to UK travel restrictions that mean anyone travelling to the country from France must self-isolate for this period.
She feels that animal care services such as kennels and catteries have been forgotten.
Ms Robertson’s business was eligible for a coronavirus-related government grant which she received between March and the end of June. She said that without it she does not think the business would have survived.
At the end of September this grant scheme was extended to provide financial support to businesses in the tourism sector until the end of the year.
The solidarity fund covers businesses badly affected by coronavirus such as hotels, restaurants, cafés, sporting events etc. Businesses that meet the criteria can receive up to €10,000.
Kennels, catteries and other animal care services are not included in this list.
The SNPCC has now submitted a request to Alain Griset, minister in charge of small and medium businesses, to ask for animal care businesses to be considered as tourism-linked enterprises.
The SNPCC have stated that Mr Griset confirmed that he would take action to extend the list.
Ms Robertson has been forced to apply for a state-guaranteed loan, which has to be repaid after a year’s grace period, to keep her afloat until the end of the year.
“That’s what I am going to have to use to pay my running costs, bills and to feed myself.
"Given many people have chosen to adopt cats and dogs during the confinement period and will need a place to leave them if they go on holiday, I am hoping that next year things will be more normal and I will be able to pay the loan back. I find it incredible to have to use this loan to be able to survive.”
Ms Robertson has written to her local government officials about being considered for a solidarity grant but was told that this only applies to tourism-linked businesses.
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