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City declaration protects animals?
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 25 mai 2011

Montreal City Council has adopted a declaration to strengthen the protection of animals.

In a press release issued May 18, Richard Deschamps, executive committee vice-president, responsible for citizen services, said that “the City of Montreal will not tolerate cruelty towards animals.”

Reports of cruelty and neglect at Berger Blanc made national headlines recently, sparking outrage among pet owners, after Radio-Canada’s TV show Enquête aired disturbing images of dogs and cats being put to death by unqualified workers.

This prompted two of the city’s ten boroughs that have a contract with Berger Blanc to demand that it come up with an action plan to ensure that the animals in its care will be treated humanely in the future.

Measures proposed by the Rivière des Prairies pound include spot checks, as well as regular meetings with the city’s representative and the Berger Blanc director. Deschamps also encouraged citizens to make complaints directly to their boroughs if they know of any unacceptable situations.

He said that prior visits by the city’s inspectors hadn’t turned up any irregularities, while stressing that he couldn’t undo previous misdeeds. “Berger Blanc is now under surveillance, but I have no control over the past. That behaviour is not acceptable – that’s it, that’s all,” he said.

He said that from now on a city inspector will be required to be on site five days a week to ensure the standardized use of barbiturates. A vet will also have to oversee euthanasia. Moreover, the City plans to implement an animal identification system, including posting photos of lost pets on a website.

However, he said that the City can’t do everything and that pet owners are an integral part of the solution. He added that upwards of 50% of Montrealers have pets, so education is key. Moving time is just around the corner and he urged pet owners to be more responsible.

Anjali Choksi, a member of an ad hoc citizens’ group concerned about the welfare of stray animals agreed, saying that “Montrealers have a bad reputation regarding impulse purchases.”

Deschamps said that Montrealers keep their pets an average of 19 months. But the life span of a dog or cat can be as long as 10 to 15 years, invariably creating a surplus population when people abandon their pets.

Karen Urtnowski, an NDG resident, would like to see more low-cost spay/neuter clinics to stem the pet overpopulation crisis.

Andrea Levy, a well-known environmental activist in Montreal, said that the real problem is with the for-profit model. “The City needs to regulate and finance non-profit animal shelters,” she said.

Deschamps said that the City didn’t rule out taking over pound services, but first wants to examine all of the contributing factors to the problem, and not just the worst effects.

[ Deborah Rankin ]

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