Adopting a pet is so easy… right?

An animal rescue and a cat café want people to know that animal adoption is a lot more work than they think

Animal rescues are experimenting with new approaches to ensure careful adoptions of pets, through educating people and encouraging interaction with the animals.

During the pandemic, many people wanted a little companion to keep them company. Adopting a pet to have a companion is great, but people sometimes forget the responsibility it requires to be a good pet parent. Additionally, animal rescues often struggle to keep future pet parents in check for adoption. Rescues offer online resources to prepare people for the steps of adoption, such as articles or chats to ask questions about the process. Most importantly, rescues recommend future parents know what kind of animal they want in their home.

Patricia Durocher is the communications coordinator at Proanima Animal Rescue in Boucherville. She is in charge of promoting the rescue through social media and helping people through the adoption process. Durocher is also head of a sensitization program she started in 2014 where she visits schools to educate students on how to be good adopters. 

“[The students] knew all the right answers. They knew, it’s very instinctive. I would say how to recognize the signs that an animal is uncomfortable, it’s scared, things like that. Then it seems like it gets lost over time,” said Durocher.

Adults tend to lose that perception about pets and later get confused about what kind of animal is best for them, according to Durocher. Even though she works with students, educating the adults on adoption must continue.

“It’s super important, but there is work with the adults that still needs to be done all the time,” said Durocher.

Durocher says that Proanima have younger animals who are in good shape, they just get adopted really quickly. She says that there is a stigma behind rescue pets which claims that they are damaged, old, or sick, which makes adopting them harder. 

“When [people] want an animal, they want it to be fast, they want a healthy animal and everything. This means that not everyone is ready to go find a shelter animal, which has an older animal, which has health problems,” said Durocher.

Durocher says there are many reasons as to why people abandon their pets. She believes that financial issues, a lack of time to care for the animals, and health concerns are some of the reasons that come up after an animal is adopted. Despite this, Durocher has noticed fewer animal abandonments and more adoptions in recent years.

When she is helping clients find their ideal pet, she notices it can be complicated. Sometimes during adoptions people have a specific idea of what kind of animal they want, without properly preparing for the experience. 

“You can’t necessarily adopt on a whim, but the problem it causes is that the person, if they find [the adoption process] too complicated or too long, they’ll just go somewhere else,” said Durocher.

Durocher feels that there needs to be a balance between an effective adoption process and ensuring that whoever is adopting a pet feels comfortable doing it.

Clément Marty is the owner of Café Chat L’Heureux in Montreal. His love of cats encouraged him to open a place where cats and humans can connect on a deeper level. By offering a new approach to animal interaction, Marty hopes that people will learn that altering their behaviour to understand the cats creates better adopters.

Café Chat L’Heureux, Catherine Reynolds/THE CONCORDIAN

“This is one of the things that will contribute to this, to be selective, to raise awareness around adoption,” said Marty.

Proanima and Café Chat L’Heureux have been partners since the café opened in 2014. The café’s cats are all rescues. There are eight older resident cats and every three to four months, two to five kittens from Proanima come to the café as part of their adoption program. Their cats walk freely around the café, interact with the clients, and remain independent when they feel like it. Marty has rules where the cats can do whatever they want, but the humans, not so much. Instead of mindlessly picking up or petting the cats, the people learn how each cat behaves.

“They will learn to take the time to look at the animal, to be interested in it. It’s all the little things that will help, in any case, to go in the right direction: to promote adoption in shelters, to promote good practices with cats,” said Marty. 

Marty and Durocher agree that people impulsively adopt animals without knowing what challenges to expect. This complicates things between the person considering adoption, the person interviewing the potential new parents of the animal, and the animal itself. The café allows the cats to wander free and gives people an opportunity to get to know the cats who roam the place. People can then have a clearer idea of what kind of cat they want in their homes. 

There are a lot of people who adopt a cat, but who are not even aware of what it costs. They’re not even aware of what it requires. Offering a place like this, is to offer an alternative,” said Marty.

Café Chat L’Heureux Catherine Reynolds /THE CONCORDIAN

Marty makes it his mission to educate people on effective adoption and the cats in his café. He provides them with the tools they need to make a clear decision on their future pet. Plus, he feels that animals are more than just an investment. He wants to remind people of this when they consider adopting either from a rescue or from the café.

Having a pet, it’s not a right, it should be a privilege,” said Marty.

Durocher admires what Marty has created and continues to create. Not everyone can open a cat café, but she believes that the project can work as long as it is done with pure intentions. 

“I think it’s just a positive experience. There’s another café that could open and do this all wrong, just take 10 cats and put them in the café. You can’t get there and then see cats that aren’t well, and that are terrified,” said Durocher.

Durocher and Marty continue to expand their businesses and help people adopt a pet the right way. Jumping the gun when adopting is not the way to go, it takes patience and a real idea of the kind of pet you are looking for. By doing it right, you will get a purrfect outcome.

A tell-all from one sadistic, whistleblowing cat

I spoke with an anonymous and furious source who contests Quebec’s province-wide curfew

I buy a coffee at a local cafe and wait on a nearby bench for my correspondent to arrive. It’s cold outside, around -10 degrees, but my determination keeps me planted where I sit, despite the cold puddle that forms under me. My warmth melts the snow on the bench. The wind chills me, reddening my cheeks and watering my eyes. I’ll know him when I see him; that’s what he told me on the phone the day before. Facing an empty park, I sip my latte, and just as I begin to lose faith that he will indeed meet me, he turns the corner, stalks over and takes a seat next to me.

“It’s gone too far,” says Michelangelo the cat. “My human is a vegetable. Nothing wrong with that, I love it when they suffer, you know I do. But it makes a year this March since my human has been home full-time. I can’t stand it anymore. I pee in the human bed, just to send a message. Nothing.”

Just then, Michelangelo gets a call on one of his six cell phones.

“Yes,” he says to the caller, straight to business. His tail flicks behind him.

“I won’t go less than one billion for the whole cargo. Who do you think I am? This is business. No pussyfooting around. Get it done and don’t call me until it’s finished,” Michelangelo says, before hanging up. His voice makes my hair stand. No pussyfooting around.

“Where was I?” he asks me. “Yes, the human problem.”

“What does it mean, for the readers who have a hard time reading cats, when you flick your tail? Is it comparable to when a dog, say, wags his tail?” I ask.

“What did you just say to me?” Michelangelo narrows his eyes; his tail flicks.

“What does it mean?” I push.

“It means move out of the way before I eat your soul,” he snaps.


“Now, as I was saying,” Michelangelo continues, “the human problem has gotten out of hand. You’d think in a year your kind would have gotten your issues solved. Normally I pay no mind to the goings-on of inferior species, but my human is around so often, it gets in the way of my plotting.”

“Plotting?” I say.

“Yes. World domination. Satellites. Cambridge Analytica. World banks. Etcetera.”

An awkward silence between us begins to swell. How do you respond to that? My best attempt was, “Ears. I heard ears are a good indication of a cat’s mood. Is this true?”

Michelangelo’s ears turn up and face out.


“Now, your ears look like Batman ears. Is this good or bad?” I interrupt.

“It is bad,” he replies. “I am on my last nerve, human.”

I say nothing to this, aware of Michelangelo’s sharp teeth and untrimmed claws.

“Humans need to leave our domain or suffer the consequences. We have poop locked and loaded in every cat house in the province. I push one button, and you will see tens of thousands of houses littered with cat poop,” he says. “On the good linens, under furniture, in the crack between the oven and the counter. They’ll have to check every drawer, every vent. Everywhere a human hides an heirloom, there will be poop.”

Michelangelo narrows his eyes at me. I can conclude from extensive research that this means he’s satisfied with himself.

“We can turn doorknobs. We know your computer passwords,” he continues.

“Michelangelo, you understand that we can’t leave our home unless it’s for shopping or an emergency. We’re in a global health crisis. Haven’t you heard of COVID-19?” I retort.

His tail fur puffs out, resembling a pine cone. I lean back in my seat to give a bit of distance in case he decides to biff me with a claw.

“All I know is, get your humans outside,” he replies. “I don’t care if it’s for a walk. I don’t care if it’s to birdwatch. I don’t care if it’s to catch the sunset. Get out.”

“Those are all really good ideas for outdoor activities,” I say. “Got any more?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Take out my litter, peasant.”

*All names have been changed for the subject’s protection


 Graphic by Laura Douglas

Tips for adopting a furbaby during the pandemic

The diamond in the ‘ruff’

Luz Adriana Monsalve’s decision to adopt a pet changed her life in more ways than she ever imagined. An Engineering student at Concordia, the adoption of her dog helped Monsalve get through the pandemic.

“At first it was actually terrifying because we first got our dog at the beginning of quarantine. I quickly realized that I was in a building of more than a thousand people. I was going up and down the elevator two to three times a day to walk my dog. So, I would be exposed to a lot of people,” Monsalve explained.

Since March of 2020, there has been a surge of animal adoptions. Many shelters around the city are running out of animals to put up for adoption.

Maria Garcia, an administrator at Refuge Zen in Laval, a shelter for stray animals, explained, “Over the pandemic, people have been adopting animals left and right. As soon as we post a picture of the animal on our Facebook page, they immediately get adopted a few days later.”

Monsalve explained the process she had to go through with the SPCA to adopt her dog. Following hygiene measures, the SPCA sets up an interview with the prospective adoptive parents of the animals. Based on the living situation, the lifestyle of the adoptive parents, the SPCA links you to a certain breed of dog or cat.

According to an article written by Health Affairs, “The struggle to balance literal survival with all the things that make surviving worthwhile has never been so clear, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many to sacrifice social connections — and therefore quality of life — for life itself.” One measure that has been helping many is pet therapy.

Medical News Today describes an effect produced by humans interacting with animals as the ‘human-animal bond.’ What this bond means exactly is the human desire to relate to animals.

The article further explains the bond itself helps people by “reducing boredom, increasing movement and activity through walks and play, providing companionship and decreasing loneliness, increasing social interaction, and improving mood and general well-being.”

Every person has a specific need for a therapy animal. Based on the type of therapy needed, the article outlines some of the goals set out for pet therapy, such as “providing comfort and reducing levels of pain, improving movement or motor skills, developing social or behavioral skills, and increasing motivation towards activities such as exercising or interacting with others.”

Emmalyne Laperle, a Sociology student at Concordia, explains her experience adopting her cat. She adopted her cat through the organization Chatopia in September of 2020.

“Since my cat is a pure breed Persian cat, he was used for breeding. He was forced to breed. Some people that I talked to ask[ed] me ‘what’s the big deal? He just has to get female cats pregnant and have babies.’ But the fact is, regardless if he’s having the babies or not, he was kept in an environment that was really harmful. When we got him, he was so stressed that he had patches of fur missing,” Laperle recalled.

Laperle explained that it took a while for her cat to warm up to her and her significant other. For the first couple of weeks, her cat felt uneasy when she would go to pick him up. However, after some time passed, the cat grew a beautiful new coat of fur and the patches are no longer there.

As much as it’s great to give an animal a home, most people do not truly realize the great responsibility that comes with adopting an animal.

“As much as it’s amazing to adopt a dog, it’s a lot of time commitment. A big-money commitment if something goes wrong. They could have a big vet bill,” Monsalve explained.

Pet therapy is a wonderful avenue during this uncertain time, however, it needs to be proceeded with caution. As we are trying to social distance from one another, pets provide companionship and a good distraction from the world around us.

Monsalve, referring to her dog sitting right next to her during a Zoom interview, said, “This dude is my best friend, he’s been a huge company to me throughout the pandemic and I think I would’ve felt really lonely without him.”


 Graphic by Taylor Reddam

Student Life

How to save a life

Opening your home and heart to the SPCA goes beyond helping animals in need

“I went into this saying to myself: I’m going to gain companionship, and I’m going to look for a dog that really needs me,” said Concordia student Sabrina Prosser. She is the proud owner of Alfie, a rescue Siberian husky from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). “I didn’t realize I was the one who needed zootherapy,” she said.

Although Prosser didn’t officially adopt Alfie for six months, she said she knew after one month of fostering him that she wanted to adopt him. Courtesy of Sabrina Prosser.

Prosser met Alfie through the Montreal SPCA’s foster care program, and became his foster parent toward the end of October 2016. If you’re an animal lover who isn’t quite ready to commit to a pet long-term, this program gives you the opportunity to have another heartbeat in the house without having to plan much ahead.


“The foster care program helps us save more lives,” said Anita Kapuscinska, a Concordia John Molson School of Business graduate and media relations coordinator for the Montreal SPCA. Kapuscinska described it as one of the best tools the SPCA has for volume influx management, and in terms of potential foster parents, “university students are just such a perfect fit.”

Although each animal’s case is different, a typical fostering period can range anywhere from one to three months, explained Kapuscinska. The SPCA works with aspiring foster parents to find an animal that best suits their living environment, caregiving abilities and financial situation, she said. “We’re in this together.”

“If I had a question about [anything],” said Prosser, “I just called them, and they gave me all the information I needed.” All veterinary assistance is also covered by the SPCA, she said.

Both Kapuscinska and Prosser are Quebec natives who moved to the island of Montreal to attend CEGEP. “I grew up in a household where we always had pets, and we’re also an Italian family,” explained Prosser. “Going from that to living completely alone was really intense and quiet.”

Starting university can be a daunting experience, especially if you’ve just moved away from home for the first time. I’ve had pets ever since I was young. As a toddler, my parents owned two large dogs, after which my mom got a black cat, and my dad got two English bulldogs. Not all in the same house, though, thankfully.

Three years ago, when I packed up my prized possessions and relocated from Toronto to Montreal to start university, I didn’t miss my family nearly as much as I missed my family pets. (Sorry mom). Two years ago, I decided to get myself two rats, and have since shared two foster cats from the Montreal SPCA with my roommates.

My current foster cat, Myr, who I share with my current roommates. Photo by Hania Kerr.

“We really wanted a dog in our lives,” explained Olivia McFarlane, a Concordia student and active foster parent with the SPCA, “but we knew we couldn’t support a dog for an extended period of time.” McFarlane and her two roommates have fostered three dogs through the SPCA over the past year and a half. McFarlane explained that one of the hardest parts of fostering an animal is that you never know exactly what you’re going to get. “The SPCA will inform you as much as they can,” she explained. But with a dog that may have a slew of behavioural issues, “you’re not going to know what to expect all the time.”

Prosser recalled the late day in October when she brought Alfie home from the SPCA. “He ended up peeing all over my apartment. He chewed everything, and he had no idea what furniture was,” said Prosser, with a smile. “And somehow that charmed me.”

After a lengthy court battle between the Montreal SPCA and the dog’s previous owners, Prosser officially adopted Alfie in April 2017. While Prosser ended up adopting her foster pet, both Kapuscinska and McFarlane continue to foster animals. Kapuscinska said her first foster pet was the most difficult to say goodbye to, but afterwards, she described always having a feeling of accomplishment. “We saved this animal,” she said, “and you helped them find a forever home.”

Belly-up and covered in lipstick kisses, Alfie grins sheepishly at the camera. Courtesy of Sabrina Prosser.

Prosser explained that she often receives praise for having saved an animal in need. “I’m like, no no no, he rescued me,” she said. Prosser explained that she struggles with anxiety and when it is more pronounced, she can spiral into slumps of depression. However, Alfie’s high energy and demand for attention “really forced me out of my vicious circle,” she said. Prosser explained that there were many days when Alfie pushed her out of bed with cuddles and kisses. “I love him so freaking much,” she said.

As university students, it often feels like we’re perpetually stressed about something, and it can be difficult to maintain a positive morale. Given that our financial and living situations are typically fluctuating, adopting an animal isn’t always viable. Temporarily fostering animals through the SPCA will not only give you access to animal companionship (re: infinite snuggles), but you’re providing a home to an animal that would otherwise await adoption in a cage. Be warned, though, falling in love is known to occur!

Feature image courtesy of Sabrina Prosser.


The SPCA is a dog’s best friend

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

Joan Coull may have just become a dog’s worst enemy on November 27, when she wrote an article published in The Gazette ranting about why she would not want to adopt a pet from the SPCA.

For those who don’t know, this organization rescues animals who are unwanted or abandoned by previous owners. It takes a certain kind of person to be willing to take in one of these creatures and it seems to me Coull just wasn’t up to the challenge.

In my opinion, putting the SPCA down and implying that someone should not to purchase a pet from the organization is like telling them not to adopt a child from an adoption agency because one of the kids might have a learning disability or emotional issues that came from their previous guardians. It is unacceptable and morally wrong. I believe it is our responsibility to take care of animals in need just as much as it is our responsibility to take care of any other living thing in society.

I understand what she is getting at when she says “I defend my right to know what kind of animal I am bringing into my family.” However, there are many volunteers at the SPCA who can help potential owners find the right dog to suit their lifestyle and the needs of their family. Furthermore, if the animal of choice does not work out, the SPCA always has return policies and guarantees. As Nicholas Gilman, executive director of the Montreal SPCA, stated in his response to Coull’s article, “we can guarantee that each animal with pre-existing medical issues is covered by our 30-day health guarantee. We do allow animals that have untenable behaviour issues to be returned to us.”

There are also many animal professionals out there, from veterinarians to dog trainers, who can help with certain health and behavioral issues. Coull claimed that a friend’s dog, who was also purchased at the SPCA, would not stop peeing, her son’s dog used to fight other males and her daughter’s had to be kept in a cage in the garage for most of his life because he used to snap at her kids. Nowhere in her article did she mention that they actually sought out professional help for their dogs. It seems to me they were too lazy to properly train their pets, so they cruelly shoved them in cages or sent them back to where they came from to be put down instead of actually dealing with the issues at hand.

I have a lot of respect for the Montreal SPCA and I don’t think they would allow an animal with permanent issues to be adopted.

“We evaluate each and every dog placed for adoption for temperament, behaviour and medical issues,” said Gilman.
I strongly believe that these poor animals could have integrated better with their new adoptive owners if proper measures had been taken. If you are not willing to put the time and effort in to properly healing and training your dog, then do not bother getting one.

What makes me angry is that Coull has reportedly bred puppies twice. If she is not a certified breeder, she has no business bringing puppies into the world. Who is to say that her puppies won’t end up with behavioral or health issues as well, like the others dogs, and will end up in the SPCA some day.

While Coull claims that she is “tired of hearing what a terrible person [she is] from holier-than-thou, self-proclaimed animal lovers.”

Well I’ve got news for you; I am not one of those animal lovers, but even I can agree that they are better off if potential owners adopt from the SPCA rather than buying from pet stores, indirectly supporting puppy mills or uncertified breeders. Those creatures have been abandoned and they need to be taken care of by pet owners who will go the extra mile for them. Honestly, if Coull isn’t an animal lover herself, she doesn’t deserve to take care of one.

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