Moving period | Pet looking for new master

The Montreal SPCA has noted an upsurge in pet abandonment during the moving season, after a trough during the pandemic.

Posted on July 4

Alice Girard-Bosse

Alice Girard-Bosse
The Press

Chatkira, 6 years old. Louis, 4 months. Loza, 12 years old. In the premises of the Montreal SPCA, each cage has its little occupant. In the past three months, the organization has taken in 689 abandoned animals, 132 more than last year. “We are returning to pre-pandemic levels,” says Élise Desaulniers, general manager of the Montreal SPCA.

Of these, 412 are cats and 115 are dogs. The number of rabbit abandonments also broke a sad record. In previous years, the organization received about forty animals. It had to accommodate 64 in the last three months. However, these figures do not include stray animals cared for by the SPCA.

Contrary to belief, the 1er July is not the busiest day. “Abandonment requests are often in the weeks or months before the 1er July, when people realize they haven’t found accommodation that allows pets,” says Desaulniers.

Rental leases

The SPCA implores the Quebec government to abolish clauses prohibiting animals in rental leases, as has been the case in Ontario since 1990. In the province, only assistance dogs cannot be refused by landlords.

According to a Léger survey from November 2021, 52% of Quebec households have a dog or a cat. However, barely 4.2% of owners accept dogs. Consequence: nearly one animal a day is abandoned at the Montreal SPCA due to moving, deplores Mme Desaulniers. The organization also receives hundreds of calls from people who cannot find housing because of their four-legged friend.

The current state of the rental market in Quebec is making this situation worse.

In a context of housing shortage, landlords have the big end of the stick. They have a lot of demands, so they don’t take chances with the animals.

Élise Desaulniers, Executive Director of the Montreal SPCA

The situation disproportionately affects low-income families due to their limited choice of housing. “Families have to make a heartbreaking choice between having a home or keeping their animal,” laments Desaulniers, who hopes the subject will become an electoral debate in the fall.

In April, the Montreal SPCA had launched a petition to the National Assembly supported by the deputy Manon Massé asking the government to abolish the clauses prohibiting animals in housing. It has collected more than 33,000 signatures so far.

Long stays

On average, the dogs stay ten days at the shelter, compared to seven for the cats. “Healthy, young animals will find families quickly,” says Desaulniers. Others, however, have to stay there much longer before finding their forever family. This is especially the case for companions that require treatment, such as diabetic cats, or older pets.

Loza, a little cat with a gray coat, watches the visitors stroll past her. The 12-year-old feline is still waiting for its adoptive family. “She is adorable,” drops an employee. Benji, a 10-month-old dog, is also struggling to find a new home. “He’s very energetic,” says SPCA employee and dog trainer Xavier Martinez.

“We encourage people to adopt a more difficult or older animal to give them a second chance in a loving home,” exclaims Desaulniers.

People who want to contribute without adopting an animal can donate money or material, reminds the director. “When we receive food, we sometimes give it to families who no longer have the financial means”, she illustrates. However, she invites donors to contact the organization before going on site with donations.

Since March 2020, an appointment system for owners who wish to abandon their animal has been in place. People who wish to meet animals awaiting adoption must also make an appointment.

Learn more

  • 200,000
    Number of pets adopted in Quebec in 2021

    Source: SPCA

    3.25 million
    Number of pets in Quebec

    Source: SPCA

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