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SPCA alert: moving day leaves loving animals homeless

July 2009

The large golden retriever lies near the reception counter peacefully, paws daintily crossed, looking as if all is well with his world. Any dog-person would recognize at first sniff that he was a person-dog, someone’s well loved pet. An excited voice is heard saying the dog, who had been picked up as a stray, may be a dog he recognizes as “Octavio.”

The air, heavy with the scent of animal bodies, is punctured by occasional wails of unmistakable despair that the soft undertone of classical music playing in the background cannot mitigate. There is no way of knowing if the dog, for now waiting patiently, is really “Octavio” or if his owners even want to find him. It’s July 1,moving day at the SPCA.

The employees and volunteers are harried,more than usual. Despite pleas by humane societies for people not to abandon their pets, there is a sharp increase in the number of animals shelters receive. In general, one worker says, dogs do get adopted “fairly quickly, but we are overwhelmed with cats. People are calling us because they’re finding cats in the closets of their new apartments.”

There are approximately 1.6 million stray cats in Quebec. According to the Montreal SPCA, one unsterilized cat can result in 420,000 kittens in seven years. Between now and the end of August shelter workers are bracing themselves for a steady stream of unwanted dogs, cats, gerbils, rabbits,mice, parakeets, doves and the occasional turtle.

Alan DeSousa,member of the Executive Committee of the City of Montreal emphasized the need for pet owners to find new homes for pets they no longer could or would not keep. “Above all, do not simply abandon them in the street or in a park, hoping that a Good Samaritan will take care of them,” DeSousa said. “This is unconscionable and cruel, because in most cases, they die of starvation or disease or they are simply run over.”

This sentiment was echoed by Cindy Hache, a longtime volunteer at the SPCA Monteregie, a no-kill animal shelter. In a radio interview, she suggested that though most pet owners would be shocked, euthanasia performed by a veterinarian may be more humane than abandoning an animal in the streets, because “they can walk a long time” exhausted, hungry and terrified.

While 45% of Quebec households own a pet, it is estimated that the average life of a pet within a family is a mere two years. To avoid unwittingly contributing to the problem of animals in crisis, the SPCA suggests adopting a pet rather than buying one at a pet store or online.

For more information on adopting or fostering a pet, call any of these animal shelters:

Montreal SPCA 514-735-2711

SPCA Monteregie 514-386-5960

Animal Rescue Network 514-938-6215

Animatch 450-452-0321

Rosie’s Animal Adoption 514-217-3647

Les Chamours 514-626-6049

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Help rescue animals

The Animal Rescue Network is looking for volunteers who love animals and have some spare time. Volunteers are needed to work in the shelter, help in the area of animal health care, drive the animals to vets, screen and coordinate volunteers, help with fundraising, and take photos.

Info: 514-938-6215 or animalrescuenetwork.org

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