Animal rescues, shelters prepare for July
|Julie Cadieux’s Kaya found a good home after failing to make the cut as a show dog.
(Gazette, Julie Cadieux)
by JULIE CADIEUX
Right now Quebequers everywhere are about to move. They’re folding clothes, taping and labeling boxes, plus getting rid of a bunch of stuff they don’t want anymore — even their pets. Quebeckers are notorious for abandoning their pets, so if you notice a cute dog or cat wandering around the neighborhood, you could be thinking “lost” but I’m betting “left behind.”
It’s not illegal in Quebec to leave a dog or cat behind, and their care simply doesn’t top the public priority list here (the recent Berger Blanc calamity is blatant proof of that). Toronto spends $3.15 per capita on animal services compared to Montreal’s 74 cents. And according to Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay, bringing Montreal up to Toronto’s standards would cost the city $5 million (to take over animal control from private pounds).
Shelters in Montreal and surrounding areas deal with approximately 50,000 unwanted pets per year. The fact that the average time a Montrealer will keep a pet is three years while the typical life span of a dog is 13 years clearly points to how prevalent the attitude is that pets are disposable. During last year’s July 1 moving boom Montreal area SPCAs were overwhelmed with a whopping 35,000 abandoned animals.
How are abandoned felines and canines dealt with on a more local scale? To find out, I visited with Chantal Vermette who owns and operates Centre Canin du Suroît in Vaudreuil, a no-kill shelter contracted to more than 18 municipalities, including Hudson, St. Lazare, Vaudreuil and Pincourt. The facility appeared clean and the pets well cared for when I popped in unannounced. Depending on the terms of their contract, Chantal says if no one claims a pet within the specified time frame of usually three to eight days, she reaches out to the Companion Animal Adoption Centres of Quebec (CAACQ), Animatch and other animal adoption organizations located as far out as Ontario to place the animal. She recently sent 15 dogs to Toronto, two of which had come from St. Lazare.
Is there any way to prevent people from leaving their pets in the dust? Gerdy Gouron of Gerdy’s Rescue & Adoption, feels that “laws have to change, no more puppy mills — and pet stores need to stick to selling products.” That wouldn’t completely stop people from impulsively buying a pet they’ll later tire of, because according to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), only ten percent of dogs and nine percent of cats are purchased through pet stores. A large number of domestic animals are obtained through breeders who place ads in the paper’s classifieds or online (Kijiji and LesPacs, for example).
Johanne Tassé of CAACQ explains that education on spaying, neutering and impulse buying of pets is a key way of fixing this growing concern. Bylaws also need to be revised and municipalities should be solely in charge of all aspects of animal control and distributing licenses to “ensure transparency and traceability.” When private for-profit shelters like Berger Blanc get the contracts, municipalities have no clear data of how many pets, what kind of breeds or how many go missing in their communities every year.
We rescued our family dog, Kaya, three years ago. From the bits we have been able to piece together, we know that as a puppy her first owner wanted her to be a show dog but somehow she didn’t make the cut. She was then adopted by a young couple who later started a family and gave her up. Her third home was with a woman who already had a dog who clashed with Kaya and she kept running into a neighbour’s yard. The neighbour liked Kaya and made an arrangement with the owner and a local shelter to foster her until they could find her a new family. Happily, this turned out to be us, but she certainly moved around a lot before we got our hands on her, and if we ever move, you can bet she’s coming with us.
The Hudson St. Lazare Gazette, June 29, 2011