Disabled animals: this refuge in Orne fights to make them happy

The shelter's little mascot who no longer sees but who is very cuddly
Stéphanie Lisicki with the shelter’s little mascot who can no longer see, but who is very cuddly. ©L’Orne Combattante

“People give up easily these days,” begins Stéphanie Lisicki. In his Suzi Handicap refuge, located in Montreuil-au-Houlme (Orne), the animals are all disabled and/or sick.

Stéphanie has lived in the animal world since her childhood and has worked in a veterinary clinic.

For me the shelter is really love for animals, it’s more than a passion, it’s obvious.

Stephanie Lisicki

There are between 250 and 260 animals: cats, dogs, horses, cows… All the animals are accompanied “to make people forget their trauma”. The disability in some is very strong: paralysis, partial or total incontinence, blindness.

Despite a strong handicap, they have “a lot of love to give”, and don’t hesitate to play and cuddle. What impresses in the different rooms of the refuge is the solidarity between the different animals: dogs, cats or even ferrets, “they pay attention to each other and help each other on a daily basis”.

Very playful little dog.
An incontinent dog, but very playful, taken in at the Suzi Handicap shelter. ©L’Orne Combattante

In the shelter, there are rooms for the animals, “we want them to feel good and receive lots of love”, smiles Stéphanie. Working here is obvious, “I need to accompany them, to succeed in making them happy despite their handicap”, she confides.

Thanks to the love and care provided, Stéphanie sees a real evolution, “we often consider them as condemned and yet they are there”.

Support at a cost

Care costs money “we are spending around 650,000 euros a year to offer the best to these animals”, explains Stéphanie. It is an association that works with donations “we always have debts at the end of the year”.

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We have to fight, some don’t understand our approach, but it’s worth fighting for the animals.

Stephanie Lisicki

A handicapped animal remains a living being with feelings and Stéphanie denounces the abandonment of animals. Beyond disability, “there are more and more dropouts because of appearance, it matters a lot to people,” she reveals. At the shelter, the more the years pass and the more there are requests: “we need more places and we are looking for an employee”.

Stephanie will always be there for her animals.
A paralyzed cat with Stéphanie Lisicki, at the Suzi Handicap shelter ©L’Orne Combattante

The heat wave that took place in the summer of 2022 had consequences at the shelter. “The animals were hot, and with their disabilities some could not stand the heat, we gave everything for them”, explains Stéphanie.

It’s not a classic job, you have to be available all the time: “it goes beyond passion”. In the long term, Stéphanie and her spouse would like to complete the expansion work and move forward on a veterinary clinical part in addition to rehabilitation. But it is also necessary to find “sponsors and funding”.

The apprehension of disability

To alleviate the fear of animal handicap, Stéphanie’s refuge, Suzi Handicap, offers many visits all year round: “we want to show that animals can live like that”. Thus, some schools in the surroundings make school trips to discover the adorable animals present on the site.

In addition, “we try as much as possible to inform about animal abuse and the consequences that this can have: some small animals no longer have eyes and find themselves blind for life, others have severed limbs”, s she saddens.

Even if some don’t understand “you have to fight for their happiness and to show that disability is not a barrier to love”, ends by saying Stéphanie.

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