SLIDESHOW: helping the homeless and their pets in the East of France

The CAIR project: is an information centre designed to welcome cats and dogs and their homeless owners who live in Reims. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is running this project in France, and takes into account the health of the animals as well as their homeless owners who find themselves in such precarious situations.  

For the past twenty years in our towns, we have been seeing ever more young people living on the street accompanied by animals. IFAW has therefore tried to understand both the complex link uniting the animal to its homeless owner as well as the associated problems with having a companion animal when you are living on the street.

During our investigation, it became obvious the preferred companion animal for the homeless is still the dog. They are a lifeline, a family, a safeguard, an antidepressant for the owner who finds himself in precarious situations.

We were able to observe just how intimate the bond existing between the animal and its owner is.  At times it is this bond that represents the final safety net before a total break from society which rejects such homeless persons and offers nothing or hardly anything – for the time being - in terms of appropriate support for man and his faithful companion through the hard times.

The idea was thus born, with the help of social partners, to create a center that could, on a temporary basis, receive these animals and allow their owners to undertake preliminary steps for their reintegration into society (doctor’s appointments, job interviews…).

This center will also provide adequate food, materials, training advice, a friendly ear and respect for this man-dog partnership.

In the meantime while waiting for this center to be up and running in the coming months, IFAW continues to provide veterinary aid and in the middle of winter, our team distributed survival bags to ensure that these partnerships, outcast by society, can face the severe cold in the East of France. 

Here we are then, all of us embarking on a wonderful adventure that allows us to share the hard times of the lives of Tornade, Turbule, Bobby … and their owners.

While I watch them, I am reminded of these few lines of Charles Baudelaire whose words capture perfectly this relationship that we will attempt to highlight throughout our project to the public, the media and to political bodies:

"I sing of calamitous dogs, whether those who wander solitary, in the sinuous ravines of immense cities, whether those who said to the abandoned man, with their blinking and intelligent eyes: "Take me with you, and out of our two miseries perhaps we can make a sort of happiness!"

Charles BAUDELAIRE « The Good Dogs », Le Spleen de Paris.


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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy