Animals get boost from dedication of volunteers

Animal charities inspired and run by Brits can be found all over France and continually strive to come up with novel ways to help.

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Alexandra Maldwyn-Davies was appalled at the number of stray cats and dogs and set up Les Puces charity shop and salon de thé in Poullaouen, Finistère three-and-a-half years ago to raise money to help refuges take in more animals.

“There was a lot of initial red tape but now we are an association with 30 volunteers. We aim to raise €1,000 a month for local charities and a refuge in Romania. We also use some money to sterilise, chip and vaccinate stray cats. We rehomed 50 cats and two dogs, but would rather concentrate on the fund raising.”

She would welcome new volunteers (find Les Puces Boutique on Facebook). One woman helping is Elizabeth Phillips, 62, who is cycling 365km mostly by the Nantes to Brest canal in stages to fundraise for Les Puces. “It is great to do something like this and I’m happy our furry friends will benefit. I love the ride; it is stunningly beautiful and so peaceful.”

In Dordogne, Mike and Leeanne Whitley run Twilight retirement dogs home at St-Paul-La-Roche and looking after elderly dogs is their life’s work. They look after old and sick dogs and have looked after more than 300 animals since they opened. Volunteers help and also raise money as each dog costs about €1,000 a year.

Mrs Whitley said they never set out to create a refuge but now could not imagine doing anything else: “We love our life. It is sad we are still needed but we have come to accept it is inevitable that there will always be older dogs that owners can no longer look after, and that most people don’t want when they are looking for a pet.

“We are just happy we can extend their lives so they die a natural death.

“It is getting harder as we are not getting any younger; Mike is 70 and some of our volunteers are 75-80, but we will keep on going for as long as we can.” For more information see