Pays d’Olmes: the “cat war” ends with an armistice

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After five years of tension and an open crisis last fall, the association Les Compagnons des Animaux, which takes care of stray animals in and around Lavelanet, has regularized its situation. She has just signed an agreement with the Community of Communes of the Pays d’Olmes and is now looking for a place to set up her refuge.

The tension has finally subsided between the Lavelanétienne association Les Compagnons des Animaux, the municipality of Lavelanet and the Community of Municipalities of the Pays d’Olmes (CCPO). Better still, the association and the latter signed an agreement last month which entrusts the Compagnons des Animaux with taking care of stray cats in the municipalities of the Pays d’Olmes, when they themselves have validated this agreement. in city council. The end of a “cat war” that lasted more than five years…

Brief reminder. While it is up to the municipalities to manage stray animals on their territory, this mission is often overseen by the community of municipalities to which they belong, which often delegates it itself to specialized associations. In Lavelanet, Les Compagnons des Animaux therefore took care of having the so-called “free cats” sterilized, but without a subsidy from the town hall and in a vague legal framework which caused a lot of tension. So much so that in June 2022, the president of the association, Amandine Méline, had sent a letter to the prefecture to denounce this situation and the lack of support from the town hall of Lavelanet.

A hunger strike for the cause of cats

The crisis really broke out on the following September 28, after a tense meeting at the end of which the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations reminded the association that it could not replace the pound power of the CCPO, and urged him to cease his activity of recovering kittens, to request authorization for the placement of animals in foster families, to train one of its members in “the exercise of activities related to pets” and to modify its statutes accordingly. Amandine Méline then announced that she was going on a hunger strike which, fortunately, did not last long.

The members of the association did not delay in taking training and obtained their Acaced (certificate of knowledge for pets of domestic species) on October 28, the association revised its statutes to mention its “free cats” activity and identify itself as a “shelter without structure”, opening the way to better framed and more peaceful relations with the CCPO.

In search of a refuge

“For the moment, we have only signed the agreement with the CCPO and the town halls of Lavelanet and Bélesta, specifies Amandine Méline. The problem is that there are 24 municipalities in the CCPO and that each must vote for membership in the municipal council, give us permission to collect the kittens… and give some money.”

The money, precisely, Les Compagnons des Animaux finally have some, the agreement including the payment of a subsidy covering the almost 9,000 euros of annual veterinary expenses of the association. This does not solve everything, since the association now needs a real refuge.

“It’s urgent, we no longer know where to put the animals, launches Amandine Méline with enthusiasm. We are three volunteers, we have three foster families, but we are already at 35 kittens and, given the economic situation and the increase in the price of kibble, there are more and more abandonments, whether of dogs or cats. So we are looking for a house and land to rent, to put a shelter there with someone on site, and it will be open 24 hours a day.”

The call is launched. As for the municipalities of the Pays d’Olmes which do not adhere to the convention, it will be up to them to take care of their stray cats themselves.

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