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PARIS (Reuters) - Growing numbers of French families hit by the economic crisis are abandoning their pets to pounds, where many face being put down, an animal rights group said on Friday.
Many French households leave animals with pounds during the summer holiday period, but France's Society for the Protection of Animals said that 5 percent fewer owners are returning to pick up their pets.
"There has been an increase in the number of people who use the crisis as an excuse not to pick up their animals," said Virginie Pocq Saint-Jean, who heads the association.
"It puts me in a blind rage. The crisis doesn't stop people from buying plasma screen TVs and cars," she said.
Animal refuge centres have struggled this year to house abandoned pets passed on to them by pounds, where animals which are not adopted are put down.
"We've gone beyond our normal capacity and have had to begin 'marrying' animals, putting two in a cage normally meant for one," said Christophe Guillo, director of a refuge at Orgeval, to the west of Paris.
A rise in home evictions was also to blame for the growing number of animals sent to pounds, Guillo said.
Reporting by Joseph Tandy; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton