Monday, December 06, 2010

Petition to improve animal welfare services in Montreal

Actually, more specifically, it is a petition to force la Berger-Blanc to improve its services. Le Berger Blanc is a private, for-profit animal shelter and euthanasia center (i.e. "the pound") that has the municipal contract for all stray animals that are found in greater Montreal. For those of you who have never looked for a lost animal, or found one and tried to deal with the system of handling lost pets or their corpses, I tell you now that it is a terrible mess.

My first experience was when I found a dead cat in the gutter right around the corner from my house. I knocked on some doors, but nobody seemed to know whose it was and it didn't have a collar. I spent hours (really, literally hours) on the phone going from service to service, trying to find what you are supposed to do. My hope was that we could find out the owner but at the very least, it had to be taken away as it was the summer. It ended up being a failure, but later that day somebody did recognize it and it was taken care of. I spoke to my vet about it and she said that usually the garbage men just pick up dead animals and they are thrown into the dump. Sentimental issues aside about respectfully treating the body, they should at least have a system to see if there is a collar or an RFID tag (which all animals taken from the SPCA get) and let the owners know the fate of their animal.

My quest did lead me to le Berger-Blanc and I learned that they are basically the pound for all of Montreal. The allegations in the petition are pretty damning and I have heard similar concerns from a past vet. But I do wish the people behind the petition would be more transparent. In any case, it looks fairly thoroughly done, correctly written in both french and english. Some of the items are totally basic and it is insane to me that they don't provide those services. For instance, the petition claims the Berger-Blanc doesn't even have an RFID scanner. It sounds like they have had this contract from the city for a long time with no real strings attached beyond "be a place we can send the animals we don't know what to do with". The result is that it the euthanasia rate is super high and lots of people don't get their pets back.

Ultimately, the problem here is with the city administration. We should be spending money on a better system of licensing and sterilization. We should also have smaller, regional shelters within public transport reach of everyone. In the meantime, putting pressure on le Berger-blanc to start to provide decent services to the public is a good start.

You can find the petition here.

(scroll down to the english details of the petition.)

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