Home Uncategorized Montreal SPCA: looking out for the city’s pets

Montreal SPCA: looking out for the city’s pets

by Archives March 22, 2006

“Once, there was a man from Eastern Europe with six children who had lost his eight-year-old dog when he immigrated to Montreal. He came to us and said ‘this dog is older than my children. You have to help me find him.’ So I created a lost-dog file. One month after, we found his dog on the 24 of December. He told me that getting his dog back was the best Christmas gift he had ever gotten. There was so much emotion. Giving a lost animal back is the best you can do for a family, you know.”

Louis Babin’s eyes glow when he recounts his story of the “lost Christmas dog.” As Operations Manager at the Montreal SPCA, he works to protect animals against abuse, negligence and exploitation. The shelter receives close to 24 000 abandoned animals every year, and helps to find homes for about 18 000 of them.

“This is a beautiful place to give hope and to change lives,” said Cristal Bordeleau, a self-proclaimed cat lover who is now looking for a dog.

“One girl here, Roxanne, gave me very valuable information about choosing a dog. You can see that she has a big passion and a beautiful understanding of dogs. Talking about them, she almost sounds like a parent talking about her children,” Bordelau said.

Roxanne Perry works full time at the SPCA, and if she has to stay three hours extra to help a dog, she will.

“I once worked with a German shepherd who would bite all the other employees, but it was easy for me to have a friendship with her because I gave her a lot of time,” Perry said.

Never at a standstill, Perry constantly looks around to ensure that all the animals are treated well because, “not everybody knows how to take care of a dog,”she said. “I work for the dog, not for the person. I cannot leave a dog with a sad family because the dog will come back two months later in worse shape than before.”

Customers who adopt impulsively and later regret it, because the dog gets sick or costs too much, are a big problem at the shelter.

“You have to think about the adoption before, because if a dog breaks a paw, it will cost you $5000,” Perry said.

A recent Friday afternoon at the shelter was very busy, with customers pondering how big their future pets might get, or how much damage they might inflict on their furniture or clothes. In the adoption room, antiseptic soap failed to cover up the urine smell. 15 dogs barked and fought for attention and love. Some threw themselves at the steel door of their cages. Others hid in the back and refused to come out when someone wanted to have a closer look at them.

“We want to get an older dog and not one that is needy like the ones in pet stores,” Viviane Plamondon said. “I also want a dog that doesn’t bark, so I only look at the ones that are lying down in their cage.”

“The dog [might be] cute, [but] maybe you will wake up in the morning with the dog eating at your leg, $12, 000 worth of damage in your kitchen, an eaten couch, and destroyed shoes,” Plamondon said.

Patrick Colford is looking for a companion for his father, and ignored the words of caution from his friend. “There has been a death in the family, and I want to cheer my father up because he is alone now. A dog brings joy,” Colford said.

“I want to get my 63-year-old dad out of the house, and decided to go here without telling him. Some people you just have to do things for,” he said.

After being in the adoption room for an hour, Colford was still arguing with his wife and friend about which dog to get. Colford wanted a three-year-old female boxer because she “barks a lot, is energetic, strong, and needs a lot of exercise.”

His wife, however, was reluctant and wanted to buy the six-year-old shih-tsu named Daisy.

“I think we should get her because she is small and doesn’t need a lot of exercise,” she said.

For Patrick, the whole point is to get his dad to exercise and be outside. “Can we at least see the boxer?” he asked.

Standing in front of the barking boxer, he stuck out his hand and said, “Do you want to go to a comfortable new home?” The dog kept barking. “Please, please, stop barking,” he said, bending down. Colford couldn’t seem to gain the trust of the boxer, who continuted to move back and forth in her cage. Frustrated, he left the adoption room to get some fresh air.

“Just because your heart goes ‘boom, boom,’ you still have to do your homework and know if your home is right for a dog,” Bordeleau said. “From hearing conversations among people looking to adopt, I think they should educate themselves better. Otherwise the dog’s fate will be repeated and it will come back to the shelter,” she said.

To prevent returns, the SPCA screens their customers before allowing adoption. “I will refuse the adoption of more dogs than cats because more bad things can happen to dogs,” Babin said. “If I see [by the answers to the questionnaire] that someone wants a guard dog for protection and the dog is to be kept outside, I have a problem, because people like that shouldn’t have a dog,” he said.

At the adoption front desk, Colford talked with an employee. While looking at the Mahatma Gandhi quote on the wall: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” he decided he has not found the right match yet. “I think we will come back later, and bring my dad so that he can choose for himself,” he said.

The Montreal SPCA is at:

5215 Jean-Talon Ouest

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