In Normandy, this shelter welcomes both the elderly and animals

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Dogs saved from euthanasia, abandoned cats, cows that were too old and whose farms wanted to get rid of… For years, the Agir pour la vie animal (AVA) association has been welcoming animals to its refuge in Cuy-Saint-Fiacre (Seine -Maritime) hundreds of vulnerable and endangered animals.

“AVA was born in 1986 out of indignation at the medically unjustified euthanasia of certain animals”, explains Elisa Gorins, the communication director

It was created by a couple of animal lovers, Maxime and Jenny Légier. “They had made a fortune in the cinema, so, a priori, an environment that has nothing to do! But they were outraged by these injustices, and they decided to invest their fortune in creating a place to allow these animals to live, even if no one wanted them anymore”, continues Elisa Gorins.

In 2003, veterinarian Thierry Bedossa took over the reins of the association, with the idea of ​​making it grow. “Today, in our shelter, we have more than 500 animals: dogs, cats, horses, cows…”, says the young woman.

In February 2022, the Orpea scandal broke. The trivial conditions in which the residents of certain nursing homes live are brought to light. The chilling revelations, however, give an idea to the president of AVA.

“He said to himself that it was not possible to separate the elderly from their animals when they were going to nursing homes, because that is also one of the problems of the end of life”, reports Elisa Gorins.

Thierry Bedossa then imagines converting a private property into a new refuge for the association, which will make it possible to accommodate both animals, the elderly, but also “human beings of all profiles”, insists Elisa. “Eco-tourists, eco-volunteers, people from all walks of life that the refuge could welcome for a night, a week, even for life!”

This is how the AVA inaugurated, at the beginning of September, its second refuge, “La Coloc d’AVA” des Sablons, in Rouvray-Castillon (Seine-Maritime), not far from the “mother house”.

The sanctuary is actually the residence of Maxime Légier, the historic founder of the association.

“He is an elderly gentleman, who lives there with a few animals, and we said to ourselves: we will allow him to stay at home, while transforming the place into a refuge”.

The green estate spreads over more than three hectares, and has a heated swimming pool, accessible to humans and animals alike.

Maxime currently lives there with a nurse and her 10-year-old son.

But in a few months, the refuge is likely to fill up.

“We are planning a lot of work, in particular to renovate the rooms that will accommodate the roommates”.

Animal residents will also be entitled to a certain comfort on site. For example, Elisa Gorins tells us, the property has three large aviaries, which are in the process of being converted into catios. “These are living spaces for cats, which will allow them to observe their environment from above while remaining safe, because the space will be fully screened.”

For the AVA association, it is out of the question, moreover, to put the animals in boxes, cages, narrow enclosures. “We want freedom and harmony between all species,” says Elise Gorins.

On the workforce side, the association does not set limits, explains Elisa. “We don’t have a minimum or maximum per se. It will depend on the agreement between everyone. On this point, Maxime will have a decisive role to play”!

Because it is the original resident will have the right to veto the selection of his future roommates.

To live in the AVA roommate, you have to be ready to get your hands dirty and take care of the animals that will be welcomed on site.

Moreover, the selection will be made “by feeling”, specifies Elisa Gorins.

To apply, you can send an email to info@agirpourlavieanmale.fr.

However, specifies the manager, the roommate will only accept independent people. “Medical care is not on the agenda. We don’t want it to be an Ehpad, but a place of life, of sharing, where people will be relatively independent. Sophie, the nurse, will however remain present on site for monitoring, or in the event of an emergency.

The new roommates should be able to put their suitcases in Rouvray in the spring of 2023. As for the price of rent, it has yet to be set by the association.

In the long term, the AVA imagines this unusual concept full of humanity to develop in the four corners of France. “It’s a pilot, experimental project for now, but we really hope it will work. If so, the system can duplicate itself everywhere! All you need is a little means, a little space, and a lot of willpower”, adds the young woman.