The towel is burning between the association Les Compagnons des Animaux, which has looked after stray cats in Lavelanet for 5 years, and the town hall, which has just withdrawn this mission. So much so that the chairman of the association went on hunger strike a week ago, while the mayor is threatening to take legal action for harassment.
It is five years since the association Les Compagnons des Animaux settled in Lavelanet and takes care of the town’s stray animals, especially cats. And it has been five years since the relationship has been strained between a president who is committed to passion and candor and a municipality whose one of the missions is precisely to manage stray animals – a mission that is overseen by the community of municipalities in Pays d. ‘Olmes (CCPO) and often delegated to specialized associations.
The situation worsened sharply after a meeting on the subject on 28 September in Lavelanet between the association, DDETSPP (departmental directorate for employment, work, solidarity and protection of the population), the municipalities’ community and the municipality. So much so that Amandine Méline, the association’s president, began a hunger strike on October 5, which she continues to this day.
35,000 euros spent in 5 years
“I’m tired of fighting against the town hall in Lavelanet,” storms the person in question. All the associations have the same status as me and the mayor has for 5 years been very happy that I look after the cats. But in June I sent a letter to the prefecture to say that in 5 years I have spent 35,000 euros to have stray cats sterilized and he is not happy to have been summoned to the prefecture. He never gave me the slightest allowance, he refused to let me do preventive work on the association forum. I’m 62 years old, I’ve been doing animal welfare for 40 years, I don’t understand. »
In the rules, not quite… Because if the association is well registered as an animal welfare association, as confirmed by the prefecture, “its statutes do not allow for the implementation of sterilization campaigns for “free cats”. In addition, no file has been sent to the declaration of a refuge for the services of DDETSPP 09.
These are all reasons why Les Compagnons des Animaux have been reminded by the DDETSPP that they “should at no time replace the power of the pound, which falls within the competence of the CCPO”. Even worse, in the eyes of their president, they must also suspend their activity of rehabilitating kittens for adoption, as long as the association has not declared its activity as a sanctuary; request permission to place animals in foster homes; train one of the association’s members with a view to “obtaining evidence of knowledge allowing the exercise of activities related to pets”; and amend their bylaws to include cat sterilization campaigns.
“What she’s doing is illegal”
Mayor of Lavelanet and president of the CCPO, Marc Sanchez, for his part, does not mince his words. “It’s a fantastic cinema,” responds the chosen one. She’s on hunger strike? I am not moved by it. Today, this lady is being challenged by many, including those who support her. What she is doing is illegal as we realized that when people come to get a kitten she makes them pay. »
An accusation to which Amandine Méline responds by citing the costs of vaccination, sterilization and chipping of the animals she collects, precisely those that would have cost her 35,000 euros in 5 years, without the help of the city.
Marc Sanchez goes on: “She lies and for me this person is dangerous, she manipulates people. For dogs we have put a strategy that is no longer a problem with dogs. For cats we sterilize them and release them into that environment , where they were taken as required by law. This person is married to the city. It harasses my staff and I reserve the right to take action to protect my employees and elected officials who have made the right decisions.”
For now, the head of Lavelanet’s municipal police, Thierry Pelous, has launched an appeal “in search of approved catchers with a view to organizing a Free Cats campaign”. Amandine Méline, she maintains the support of several members of other animal protection associations, who emphasize, “that she did a good job, even if it is a big mouth. »
And she concludes: “The only thing I wanted was for the mayor to recognize our association, for us to get a grant, and for us to work hand in hand. I don’t understand, but I will continue my hunger strike until the end. I’m here for the animals, that’s all. »