Super-pound seen as solution to pet problem

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    This article was removed from the Montreal Gazette’s website.

    The city of Montreal’s plan for an island-wide municipal super-pound to reduce pet overpopulation and boost responsible ownership sounds great, some politicians and animal rights advocates agree.

    Now comes the hard part: making it happen.

    No details about the cost, location or potential partners in the new pound were announced by city of Montreal executive-committee vicechairperson Richard Deschamps on Thursday.

    All of that will depend on how many of Montreal’s 19 boroughs and the island’s 15 cities agree on operations and financing details, to be decided by next summer.

    The boroughs and cities usually subcontract picking up dead animals in their streets and catching strays. Live pets are sent to a pound for adoption or – all too often – to be euthanized.

    Deschamps said the islandwide agglomeration could offer a centralized pound with affordable pet sterilizations, microchip IDs and licences with the goal of reducing pet overpopulation and euthanizations.

    Penalties would be used to enforce the rules.

    “The reality for a good number of our domestic animals is that it comes down to a few months in a family – an average of 19 months – which is far below the pet’s life expectancy of 10 years or so,” Deschamps said.

    Nearly 22,000 cats and dogs were abandoned in shelters in Montreal last year, he added, and 60 per cent of those were euthanized because they were not adopted.

    The plan comes after a Radio-Canada TV news exposé last spring showed what appeared to be scenes of animals being cruelly put down at the Berger Blanc pound.

    Alanna Devine, the director of animal welfare at the SPCA in Montreal, was pleased to hear the city wants to move to a municipally run pound.

    “I’m very hopeful,” she said, adding that the Verdun borough was being looked at as a model on animal control.

    Verdun has differential mandatory licensing: A license for a cat is free, but costs $25 if the animal is not sterilized. A dog licence costs $20 – or $50 if it is not sterilized.

    The SPCA would prefer to get out of the business of providing animal control services, Devine added.

    Joel Bergeron, head of the Quebec Order of Veterinarians, said sterilization costs can range from $250 to $350 per operation, depending on the sex and size of the animal.

    Subsidized sterilizations “are a very interesting idea and we could provide them in a targeted manner, to low income pet owners, for instance.”

    Piper Huggins, a Projet Montréal borough councillor in Plateau Mont Royal, said: “It’s extremely important that it be a non-profit model.”

    She noted that no such guarantee was given by Deschamps.

    Vision Montréal leader Louise Harel applauded the announcement and said she believes at least five borough mayors probably will back the plan – “especially the educational aspect, to make pet owners more responsible. We have a bad record on that score as Montrealers.”

    In the city of Westmount, director-general Duncan Campbell said he was leery of another bureaucracy at the agglomeration level.

    “If there are advantages, we can see if we can do something together.”


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