In the small room of the municipal library of Formerie (Oise), 200 kg of croquettes and hundreds of boxes of pies are piled up. All for distribution to pet owners in difficulty of the town of 2,000 inhabitants.
Bag in hand, Jean-Louis is the first to arrive. “Hello Jean-Louis, what does Pompon want then?” asks one of the volunteers from the Solidarité Coup de patte association. “Half and half, as usual,” replies the retiree. That is to say half croquettes, half pâtés for his companion with a mustache. He opens his bag: “I have kibble, boxes for cats. With that, I can last a week then after I come back”.
In the space of an hour, twenty owners follow one another, discuss, have coffee. Betty even comes with one of her cats, Tiggy. They are 10 at home. The two parents, three children, and “Bob, Chipie, Aloeil, Tiggy and Junk but we don’t call him potato anymore”.
After a job loss, health problems, the couple find themselves today with 1,300 euros per month. 1,300 euros to pay rent, meals, telephone packages. The rest is for the animals. “In kibble, it will vary between 20 and 40 euros per month, the litter we will say that the 7 liters is 5 euros. It’s a big budget. In total 100 euros per month for all the animals. Before, we could afford. Now, even the animals, we have to sacrifice ourselves for them, “she explains.
Croquettes given to the beneficiaries of the association.
Credit: Hermine Le Clech – RTL
Sacrifices that Magalie knows well, one of the five volunteers present that day. Because in Formerie, those who distribute also receive. So when everyone has passed, it’s their turn to help themselves. “So I’m going to have 8 bags of kibble and 40 boxes. That’s a lot of 60, 70 euros there,” she lists. A sum that none of the beneficiaries can pay without depriving themselves.
I don’t buy anything for myself. No shopping or anything. Everything for my animals
Magalie, volunteer at Formerie
Magalie has 9 cats at home, “and a tenth in her heart”. Around her neck, a pendant that she wears every day. “It’s Mustache, he left at 18. Today he is still a little with me,” she confides.
A few years ago, the young woman had the means to maintain so many animals. But one layoff combined with inflation, and his finances went into the red. “I only live with what the restaurants of the heart give me. I don’t buy anything for myself, neither shopping nor anything, everything for my animals, she explains modestly. Before, the litter was at 0, 99 cents, now it’s 1.53 euros. I have 7 litters, count the increase”. A few months ago, Magalie paid 7 euros for her litter. Now it’s 11. The young mother lives on less than 600 euros per month.
“I didn’t have any heating this winter, I didn’t want to give them up. They told me I had to give it a little bit, but I can’t part with a cat. My cats are my life. I have no family apart from my daughter,” she says. “If it hadn’t been for the association, I wouldn’t have my cats anymore. How would I have fed 9 cats?
Questions that many families in Formerie ask themselves. They confide, most of the time off the microphone, with great modesty, their sacrifices. Some stop eating meat, others stop eating desserts, or suppress their hobbies.
Initiatives that are still too rare
In a few years, the association has seen its demand increase by 10% in Formerie, “while we remain a rural town with few inhabitants”, explains Dominique Copitet, at the initiative of the distribution, who continues: ” Associations that take care of families do not take their animals into account today”. There are indeed a few similar initiatives, particularly in large cities such as Caen, Rouen or Paris.
If we close the doors, the situation will be dramatic for them
Dominique Copitet, at the initiative of the distribution in Formerie
But these associations remain for the most part small structures with very localized distributions. Yet the needs are growing. “People will do everything anyway so that their animals do not miss anything. Now there will be a limit because they will not have the financial means to pay for the kibble. If we close the doors, the situation will be dramatic for them. “, laments Dominique Copitet.
In fact, all the people who manage these associations express a regret: that the expenses related to pets are the great forgotten aid for the most precarious families.
Faced with demand, the Solidarité Coup de patte association is looking for donations and partnerships with supermarkets. Here is the site and their Facebook page to contact them: [email protected] and Solidarity coup de paw SCP.