The towel is burning between the association Les Compagnons des Animaux, which has been taking care of stray cats in Lavelanet for 5 years, and the town hall, which has just withdrawn this mission. So much so that the president of the association began a hunger strike a week ago, while the mayor threatens to take legal action for harassment.
It has been 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 relations have been strained between a president committed to the point of passion and outspokenness, and a municipality whose one of the missions is precisely to manage stray animals – a mission overseen by the community of municipalities of the Pays d ‘Olmes (CCPO) and often delegated to specialized associations.
The situation deteriorated sharply after a meeting on the subject, on September 28 in Lavelanet, between the association, the DDETSPP (departmental directorate for employment, work, solidarity and protection of populations), the community of communes and the municipality. So much so that Amandine Méline, the president of the association, 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 of Lavelanet, storms the person concerned. All the associations have the same status as me and the mayor has been very happy for 5 years that I take care of 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 in prefecture. He never granted me the slightest subsidy, he refused to let me do prevention work at 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 protection association, as confirmed by the Prefecture, “its statutes do not provide for the realization of sterilization campaigns for “free cats”. In addition, no file for the declaration of a refuge has been transmitted to the services of the 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”. Worse still, in the eyes of their president, they must also suspend their activity of recovering kittens with a view to adoption as long as the association has not declared its activity as a refuge; request authorization for the placement of animals in foster families; train one of the members of the association with a view to “obtaining proof of knowledge allowing the exercise of activities related to pets”; and amend their statutes to include cat sterilization campaigns.
“What she is doing is illegal”
Mayor of Lavelanet and president of the CCPO, Marc Sanchez for his part does not mince his words. “It’s great cinema, reacts the chosen one. She’s on a hunger strike? I’m not moved by it. Today, this lady is being challenged by many, including those who support her. What she does is illegal since we realized that when people come to get a kitten, she makes them pay. »
An accusation to which Amandine Méline responds by invoking the costs of vaccination, sterilization and chipping of the animals she collects, the very ones that would have cost her 35,000 euros in 5 years, without any help from the city.
Marc Sanchez goes further: “She is lying and for me, this person is dangerous, she manipulates people. For dogs, we have put in place a strategy, there is no longer a problem with dogs. For cats, we have them sterilized and we release them in the environment in which they were taken, as the law requires us to do. This person is poison to the city. It harasses my staff and I reserve the possibility of taking action to protect my employees and elected officials who have made the right decisions. »
For the time being, the head of the municipal police of Lavelanet, Thierry Pelous, has launched an appeal “in search of approved trappers in order to organize a Free Cats campaign”. Amandine Méline, she retains 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 have subsidies 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. »