Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's Time To Improve Animal Welfare In Montreal

MONTREAL – Shut the Berger Blanc animal pound down Sept. 1, local animal activists urged in a series of passionate, emotion-laden appeals Friday, as they laid bare their anger, outrage and sense of betrayal.
The Quebec Order of Veterinarians and the Montreal SPCA weighed in as well – with much less emotion, but also in response to a Radio-Canada documentary that used hidden cameras to cast a devastating spotlight on how the for-profit local cat-and-dog-disposal operation is being run.

The “shocking images” that were broadcast documented “extreme cruelty,” the professional order judged, adding that it has been investigating Berger Blanc since January. It condemned the techniques the Berger has been using to put down some 20,000 strays a year – collected from 10 Montreal boroughs – as “illegal in addition to being unacceptable.” “What was broadcast” Thursday night on the public network’s investigative series Enquête “showed images of broad cruelty to the animals ... inappropriate euthanasia practices, unclean premises and non-respect for laws and regulations,” the professional order added.

In a detailed Facebook statement, the Montreal SPCA identified severe stray-animal overpopulation on and around Montreal Island as the root of the problem, calling this the result of “a (regional animal-control) system that is purely reactive, inefficient and cruel.” Adequate municipal animal control costs “between $5 and $7 per capita per year,” the SPCA added, citing figures from the International City/County Management Association and the National Animal Control Association, both from the U.S.

But annual spending for this in the Greater Montreal region is about one-tenth of that, it added:
“With a population of about 3 million (people), the minimum allocation for animal services should be $15 million,” the SPCA said – after it also pronounced itself “dismayed and horrified” by the Berger Blanc practices illuminated by Enquête. “Currently,” the SPCA added, “those budgets are estimated at $1.5 million – far less than the amount that should be devoted to ensure and efficient and humanitarian service.”

Every year, “at least 50,000 animals” across the Montreal region are abandoned in animal shelters or for-profit pounds, said the SPCA, which operates the Montreal SPCA Emergency Shelter.
“In comparison,” it added, “in Toronto, with a population of 2.7 million, 16,000 animals are abandoned every year.” It has launched its own investigation, and “if this provides sufficient elements of proof to show an infraction of the Criminal Code of Canada, this file will be presented to a Crown prosecutor.