Sue Fairweather is a great supporter and adopter for Phoenix.
And TOAST & MARMALADE, who have “wobbly cat syndrome” who were adopted in 2013
Here are SMUDGE (centre) with TOAST & MARMALADE. Smudge was adopted in 2010.
The Bangers and Mash Fundraiser started four years ago when Paula Lopez’ friend, Kris, had problems with numerous cats in the garden of her summer home in Tremolat. A stray pregnant female turned up in her garden and soon produced kittens which in turn produced kittens and before long her garden was overrun by cats and kittens – they were everywhere! Up to 15 cats and kittens at any one time were living in Kris’s garden and the whole situation was both distressing and worrying for Kris, Paula and their friends and families
Paula, who runs a cattery, and Kris, also a cat lover, did their best to look after some of the cats but the problem was just too large. They decided that enough was enough and that they would take action to prevent them from breeding. Paula had been making her own delicious sausages for several years and so they decided to hold a Bausage and Mash Evening in order to raise funds to help deal with the cat and kitten problem.
These events started in 2010. Sausages and mash and a dessert, as well as a raffle and quiz were on offer and around 30 people attended that first event. It was such a success that they were able to start dealing with their cat and kitten problem. They fed the cats and kittens in one particular area and they set about catching them in traps that they had bought and borrowed, some of which were designed for squirrels. This was a time consuming business involving a great deal of patience and determination. All those that weren’t neutered, which was almost all of them, were taken to the vet for sterilisation. Phoenix provided advice and help with finances, as did the vet in Bergerac who undertook the sterilisations.
Paula and Kris continued to feed the cats and during that first year they were still there in large numbers but obviously not increasing as rapidly as previously. Some of the cats naturally disappeared or found homes elsewhere.
Two more similar sausage and mash events have taken place over the last three years and each year they have become increasingly successful. The second year followed the same pattern as the first and more cats and kittens were trapped and neutered but this time many fewer needed to be done.
2013 was the most successful event to date. 63 people attended the event and as well as the canapes, sausages and mash and trifle there was a quiz and a raffle which had some fantastic prizes donated by local businesses. It is hard to imagine the work involved in feeding home- made sausages and mash to 63 people as well as the other work involved in setting up and running such an event. The work was all done by Paula, friends, family and a volunteer who assisted on the evening. Almost everything was freely donated. Paula says that she couldn’t possible have done this without the help of her friends and their husbands and the volunteer.
A staggering 815 euros was raised and, because of the amazing success of the sterilisation scheme, this was not needed! The problem had been solved and there was just one injured male needing to be neutered. It was therefore decided to donate the proceeds of all this hard work to Phoenix. Lynda, the principle Phoenix cat and kitten Foster Carer, had provided advice and help and had re-homed stray cats which had turned up at Paula’s home. It was therefore decided to “give something back” to Phoenix. This very welcome donation will be used to help cover some of their massive costs and vets bills incurred in their work in helping and re-homing animals in need.
This story is particularly inspiring because Paula and her friends didn’t complain or expect another organisation to take action; they got on with it themselves and had amazing success. In just a few years and by using local resources they transformed a local cat and kitten problem which was running out of control, into a manageable situation. It is a demonstration of how this common problem in rural France can be dealt with by imagination determination and a sterilisation programme.
This moving story from south west France demonstrates why you should never walk away from a suspected animal cruelty case. Something can always be done.
In mid-February 2013, Phoenix PR volunteer, Jenny Marshall, had been alerted by a friend to the presence of a poor little pony in a local field, obviously in a terrible state. Jenny was horrified to see that the hooves were completely overgrown, making it almost impossible for the little pony to walk, so she spent most of her time lying down.
Worse still, her only water was a stream at the bottom of a steep hill and so she had an agonising daily walk, just to stay alive.
What followed next was an incredible team effort from some determined, diplomatic and kind people.
Jenny and her friend Barbara consulted with both Phoenix and ASHA (Association Saint Hippolyte Aquitaine) and agreed to try to negotiate with the owners of the pony (now known as Misty) for her release. Laurence, Barbara’s husband, went out several times at the crack of dawn in icy weather, to take photos of Misty, so that the owners, who lived next to the field, didn’t see him. Then, containing their anger and negotiating very diplomatically, they finally convinced the owners to let their pony go.
Afterwards, they got a farrier to come and trim Misty’s hooves, and a local vet to examine her, to hopefully start her long recovery process and make her more mobile. For two weeks, Laurence and Barbara went twice daily to give her the necessary medication, special food and company, after which the vet was due to consult her again and give an assessment.
Despite very negative vet’s reports, eventually, thank goodness, all the efforts and time paid off, and she started to pick up and showed herself to be a really sweet-natured little pony.
It turned out that Misty had been bought about 25 years ago by the owners as a gift for their grandchildren to play with, and both children and grandchildren had since moved to Paris. Poor Misty had been unloved and totally neglected for all those years! Misty was taken to Barbara’s to rehabilitate, and once she had recovered from the initial problems and pain, and with much TLC and the company of Barbara’s two horses, she never looked back.
However, varying complexities had to be dealt with along the way. Misty had an infected foot, and a lot of time and work was involved in treating and bathing it. More worryingly still, it was suspected that Misty had Cushings Syndrome. This can be fatal and due to Misty’s many years of total neglect, her outlook was worryingly bleak.
We were all very keen to put the feelers out for a new home for Misty, since Barbara had only taken her on temporarily, but until a diagnosis was made, everything was on hold.
Joyfully, she was at last given the all-clear and a much happier and healthy Misty was put up for adoption, with a special appeal launched by us at Phoenix.
An experienced horse-owner called Rosemary spotted one of our adverts and her heart gave way to Misty, so she was at last successfully placed, and is now living happily ever after with Rosemary’s other animals. Rosemary says:
“She’s such a character, considering her hard life. She’s a very happy lady, loving the touches of luxury. Seeing her happy and enjoying a proper horse life, from the nightmare she had before has helped me through a difficult time also. She will always be handicapped, her walking is 85% normal but we are working on it.”
Because Misty can’t speak, thank you on her behalf to everyone involved in this rescue, especially to Jenny and Barbara who had the bravery to look cruelty in the face and not to walk away. It just goes to show that anything is possible, and everything is worth it in the end.
As you can see, Bertie has settled in so well with us – he’s a lovely little boy – although our first night was spent roaming the streets as he had escaped through the cat flap ! We did think of renaming him Houdini – but after a few days he soon knew home and he’s now very calm, loving and extremely obedient and also his Mum’s shadow! Everyone he meets adores him and we can’t for the life of us think why he was abandoned – but glad he was so we were lucky enough to have him come and make our life so happy. Thanks to Simonie, his foster mum for getting him to trust again.
Sue & Terry Hunt