Les Amis des Animaux is an association run entirely by volunteers. Our strength is our core team of individuals and a wider network of helpers and supporters, who are all passionate about making a difference to the lives of cats and dogs in our care.
Meet our Conseil headed by the Bureau – President Lynn Hull, Treasurer Louise Virnuls and Secretary Pauline Woodcock – plus the rest of the core conseil team with some of our key helpers who keep the wheels turning behind the scenes.
Lynn Hull – President & Founder
In 2014 the refuge in Tarbes put out a plea for blankets. Lynn responded, decided to raise money and then to create a hub to help some of the dogs that were obviously struggling. And Les Amis des Animaux grew from there!
Lynn says, “I have to pinch myself every time I see the statistics – how can this be possible! I think it has happened because we have stuck to a philosophy of no force on anyone – volunteers, fosterers and adopters; no silly rigid rules but focusing on a good match between animal and family; a true respect for people who offer help and no recriminations when they need to pull away; and a fantastic team that has grown over the years, each one with “can do” written through them like a stick of rock”.
Lynn has shown, trained, worked, bred and judged curly-coated retrievers for over 30 years. In the photo with Lynn is Mandy, who is part-curly-coated retriever.
Louise Virnuls – Treasurer
Louise cannot remember a time when she has not been surrounded by dogs, many of them strays she found wandering along the side of the road! She has always been involved in raising money for charities, and it was at an event in 2015 that she met Lynn, who invited her to a Les Amis AGM. Louise was asked to be treasurer and the rest, as they say, is history!
The role of treasurer is far-reaching: it involves ensuring that the invoices and expenses are processed, and all incoming payments are recorded. As a fluent French-speaker, Louise also liaises with the vets when foster dogs and cats, and long-term foster dogs require special care and surgery.
Louise says that as her role is primarily administration, she loves being able to take an animal for specialist surgery or driving them to their forever homes. “We work great as a team, always being there to support each other”.
With Louise is her young dog, Jack.
Pauline Woodcock – Secretary & Administrator Supreme
Pauline first came across Les Amis when they adopted a dog and was so impressed by the patient support and advice that she volunteered to help with Les Amis administration. Her role involves maintaining the database of cats, dogs, adopters, fosterers and vets. She issues contracts and other paperwork to adopters and fosterers. In addition, she deals with the various paperwork demands that ensure we are compliant with French law as an animal welfare association.
Pauline lives far from dept 65, where Les Amis is based, so her work is mainly computer-based, apart from the occasional meeting with adopters, fosterers, vets and fundraising organisations that are local to her.
Pauline loves to read about our success stories. She says, “ The best time is when I read the follow-up of a dog or cat who had a very sad starts to their lives, but who has found such happiness in their new home and has brought so much happiness to the lives of their adopters or fosterers.”
Lianne Gentle – Chief Co-ordinator
Lianne (I’m just the driver) Gentle is Lynn’s right-hand woman. Lianne was the first Les Amis fosterer when she adopted Gentil, a beautiful setter, who is now the old lady in her pack of foster waifs and strays.
Lianne works tirelessly on assessing the applications, finding the right match for family and dog (and occasionally cats). She also sets up complex covoiturages, with multiple handovers, and spends hours behind the wheel of her car, transporting dogs and cats to new homes.
Lianne says, “I love being kept busy, enjoy the team effort and seeing updates from adopters and fosterers. That really does make it worthwhile.”
Pauline Baxter – Cats & Membership Secretary
Pauline first got involved with Les Amis after volunteering at the SPA at Tarbes to socialise cats. She started helping out at the Les Amis fêtes, and gradually worked more with Val West to re-home cats and kittens.
In addition to her work with cats, Pauline is Membership secretary, and has also created maps of France to show location of collaborative organisations, such as the hundreds of veterinary clinics we work with and people who have volunteered to help transport animals.
Pauline most enjoys playing a part in finding fosterers and forever homes for cats and kittens and helping to transport them to their new homes.
Rowan Norrie – Marketing & Fundraising
Rowan has been fostering dogs since 2016 and became more involved with marketing and fundraising during COVID, when there was an urgent need to raise more funds.
Rowan has been involved in setting up new systems and processes to manage applications, raise funds and communicate support information and success stories. Most recently, she has set up the newsletter, which is a great source of pet information and news of Les Amis rescues past and present. Her aim now is to help supporters to raise funds on our behalf: “We have amazing supporters, who are vital for the success of Les Amis. We are looking for ways to provide support and tools for those who wish to raise funds, whether running a marathon, producing goods for our shop, or holding a coffee morning. There are so many opportunities out there!”
Rowan is always touched at the rescue stories. She says, “For all of us, the drive is to help animals that would otherwise slip through the net. To watch the transformation of the animals rescued from terrified, sick or injured to beloved pet is always a thrill.” In the photo with Rowan are two of her failed fosters – Nouska and Loustic.
Judith Schipper – Dog Training & Fundraising
Since adopting Parker in 2019, Judith has been involved with Les Amis as a dog trainer, behaviour consultant and conseil member.
Judith spends her time with classes, walks, 1-2-1 training and organising workshops and fun(d) mornings at Barkbuster Training and Treats. She is also constantly studying to learn more about dog behaviour, different training methods and dogs’ diet. And her doggy fish cakes and liver cakes are in high demand for treats.
Judith says, “I am delighted that I have a regular spot in the newsletter, giving useful training tips for new fosterers and adopters. Although it is training, I prefer to call it playing games!”
Zoe Shuttleworth – Web Design
Zoe first came across Les Amis when she adopted her first Les Amis dog, Philippe. When Lynn heard that she was a web designer, she wasted no time in bringing me on board!
Zoe designed and built the Les Amis website, which is constantly being updated. She also provides free web hosting, a number of premium software licenses, and her time in the form of ongoing technical maintenance, updates, and setting up new features and functionality, such as the shop and raffle.
Zoe says, “I’m always stunned when I update the figures on the website that show how much money is raised and spent and how many animals are helped as a result. It’s been great to work with some talented, experienced and organised people in the team. My work on the website can make a huge difference, but only with other people in the team who understand how to make use of it”.
Marije van der Linden
Marije has been volunteering with Les Amis from the beginning, fostering puppies through the critical early stages, when it is vital that they are socialised and learn good habits.
Gradually, Marije became more involved with administration, and is currently responsible for the procurement of food and supplies for fosterers.
When asked what she enjoys about her time with Les Amis, Marije says, “Being part of such a great team of volunteers is amazing. We’re all in it to make this world a bit a better place”.
Marije has always loved larger dogs, and with her in the picture is her Doberman cross, Prince.
Linda Walsh – Auctions
As with many of us, Linda started volunteering with Les Amis as a fosterer, especially for dogs that needed quiet post-operative care. She then helped by writing profiles for the dogs on the website and appeals on Facebook.
Linda came up with the idea of running auctions, which has become a critical funding stream for Les Amis. She explains, “During the pandemic there was a dramatic drop in fundraising events, and I decided to try to refill the coffers by running online auctions. Because of their ongoing success, these auctions have continued post-Covid, and I have managed to gather a small team to ensure that we can keep this invaluable income stream flowing”.
“Despite the inevitable pressures on our team of volunteers, there is an amazing sense of community and always the chance for our sense of humour to carry us through the stressful moments!”
The photo shows Linda and her beloved dog, Tara.
Val West – Cat Co-ordinator
Val was involved with the cats at the SPA refuge in Tarbes and this led on to working with Les Amis and the development of the cat and kitten foster programme. Over the years this has grown from a handful of cats – and especially kittens – being fostered and adopted to more than 100 successfully placed every year.
With input from the rest of the cat team, Val deals with enquiries from people wanting to adopt or foster a cat; places cats and kittens with fosterers and monitors their progress; reviews applications from potential adopters; arranges transport and covoiturage to get cats to their adoptive or foster homes; advises people with cat-related problems; assists people who need to re-home a cat; helps people in various parts of France to find sources of help locally; prepares profiles and appeals for Facebook and the website!
Of the work with Les Amis, Val says, “When a situation is particularly sad or harrowing, or the sheer volume of work is overwhelming, being able to share a problem, to get instant practical and emotional support is fantastic. We are a team, and it’s good to share a laugh at some of the weird and wonderful situations that arise in animal rescue!”
Andrea White – Cat And Kitten Fosterer
In 2018 Andrea was working on a local feral kitten rescue mission, and someone put her in touch with Val West for advice. She says of the contact, “I was amazed to have stumbled upon an organisation so quick to respond in offering the much-needed advice, expert veterinary care and general help for the well-being of creatures in distress”.
Since then, Andrea has been one of our top kitten fosterers, caring for abandoned kittens from the very vulnerable two-day-old tinies needing two-hourly ‘surrogate-Maman’ love and attention to giving neglected or unwell kittens of a few weeks’ old the care, warmth and security they need, as well as the time to learn to play and blossom that they might have missed out on if Les Amis hadn’t been there for them.
Andrea loves being part of the Les Amis team. She says, “Our frailties are forgiven, and our strengths encouraged! Cats have always been my passion and I am supremely grateful that even now that I am retired, I can use my time caring for needy little ones, knowing that the huge pool of knowledge, experience and compassion for animals that is Les Amis des Animaux is available for advice and support”.