Volunteering in France with Animals and LAARF

Written by on January 25, 2016 in Expats in France, Pets And Animals


Helping out at your local animal refuge in France is a great way to help the animals, get involved in the local community and make new friends…

Producing 160 promotion posters for 160 dogs in one weekend is water off a duck’s back (or should we say, dog’s?) for Emma Lee, one of LAARF’s finest. This is what we found her doing when we contacted her.

Emma lives in the Charente in a house full of dogs. When she’s not walking or caring for them, she is either writing, teaching or volunteering at her local dog and cat refuge. That’s how she got involved with LAARF – Les Amis des Animaux des Refuges en France.

LAARF was formed by a group of people who care deeply about the plight of animals in France. The point of the group is infiltrate, if you will, the refuges of France with volunteers who, amongst other things, walk dogs, cuddle cats, knit coats, collect bedding, help promote the animals for re-homing and perhaps most importantly, support each other in doing so.

Emma is arguably one of the hardest working “LAARFers” as they call themselves. Of the 200 or so dogs at her nearest SPA (refuge) in Angoulême, where she volunteers and sits on the committee, Emma knows them all. Ask her anything, and she will either know the answer, or she’ll find out within minutes. Emma falls in love with every single dog and that is manifested in the promotional adverts that she produces for them, an effort which has significantly increased their adoption rates. And this is on top of holding a full time job.

How does she do this? Let’s find out:

Emma, you are clearly a very busy person. How do you find time to devote to your activities within LAARF?

I treat the refuge as my social event of the week and meet up with my friends there. I do what I can from home as well, as there are a lot of jobs that don’t require me to be on site. When you are determined, you find a way. A small commitment of time can and does have a massive impact.

What motivates you to volunteer?

I make promises to the refuge dogs and cats. I say to each one that I will do my best by them. Last year, one of my favourites, nine-year-old Leonberger cross, Lou, died at the vet’s of a stomach torsion. He’d spent four years at the refuge. I’d just put together a video montage to show everyone what a great dog he was, but I was too late. I knew there and then that it wasn’t acceptable to me to allow dogs to spend four years in limbo or for dogs to die without a home.

What’s your advice to anyone thinking of volunteering at their local refuge?

Stop putting it off. Stop thinking that it doesn’t matter if you don’t go. Stop thinking that your lack of French will hold you back. There are hundreds of things you can do if you can’t walk dogs or pet cats. So much happens behind the scenes that once you realise how much there is to do, you want to help out as best you can.

If you’d like to get involved, contact LAARF on: Email: info@laarf.com; Website: www.laarf.com; Facebook – LAARF SPA Volunteer Network

Jane Hunt lives in The Dordogne with her husband and two rescued dogs where she runs her own advertising and communications agency. In her spare time Jane volunteers at her local dog and cat refuge and provides public relations and fundraising support to Hope Association and Twilight, the retirement home for older dogs. 

Read about the expat couple who have taken in hundreds of unloved dogs in France – Twilight, the retirement home for older dogs, an incredible story of love

Tags: ,

Related Articles

Expert property guide to Tarn-et-Garonne

Tarn-et-Garonne in south west France is one of the smallest departments in France but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty to fall in love with. Named for the two mighty rivers which flow through it – the Tarn and the Garonne, it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty, gorges and forests, fields and vineyards pepper […]

Continue Reading

British expats run a “charity cottage” in Burgundy

We chat to Rosy Rabson, a British expat who retired to Burgundy and run a gite from which all proceeds go to charity. Based in the Morvan area, with its regional natural park, a land of ancient castles, picturesque villages, forests and lakes, it is a largely undiscovered by tourists part of France – and […]

Continue Reading

British expat opens chic cafe in rural France

Katharine Tasker from London upped sticks in the city and moved to the sticks in rural northern France. With her she brought a sprinkling of urban style to her new build home and thriving new business, a café and shop… Pas de Calais is a region of meadows and forests, the countryside is criss crossed […]

Continue Reading

Comedian’s guide to starting a B&B business in France!

British stand-up comedian, mod, expat, goat whisperer (maybe) – and now Chambre d’hote host – Ian Moore’s unique insights into life in the Loire Valley will make you laugh out loud… Hosts, Goats and Chambres d’Hôtes There’s a point in my first or second book, probably both, where my wife, Natalie, and I sit down […]

Continue Reading

Preparing your pet for travel post-Brexit

Social media remains awash with post Brexit scaremongering! ‘They’re going to abolish the pet passport system’ is just one headline I’ve read recently, although it doesn’t appear to have any foundation in fact. For those of us who now regularly travel with our pets (I’m predominantly talking about dogs, but I have met a few […]

Continue Reading


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.