Happy Birthday to our beloved SPCA!

Happy Birthday to our beloved SPCA!

“Something to crow about. For 150 years.” This is one of the slogans that the Montreal SPCA, renowned for its defence of animal rights, has created to mark the milestone anniversary.

June 10, 2019

The Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, founded in the heart of the city's Latin Quarter in 1869, was the first animal-welfare organization in Canada. Other SPCAs—all run independently—are dotted across Canada and the globe. The Montreal SPCA takes in 5 times more cats than dogs, while also caring for a wide range of other distressed animals, including chickens, sheep, rodents and turtles.


At the end of the 19th century, that was the average number of horses (in 1 hour!) circulating on Saint-Antoine Street in Montreal. The SPCA was originally established to address the uncertain fate of these animals. And, after so many years of committed action, they were instrumental in having horse-drawn carriages banned from Montreal's streets. As part of the recent agreement, the SPCA will pay owners $1,000 per animal and find the hard-working horses homes where they can enjoy their golden years.


According to a history of the association recently published in French, this was the number of dogs that the SPCA sheltered in 1995. They took in 93% fewer dogs in 2018, a total of 6,790.


All species combined, this is the number of animals that the Montreal SPCA shelters, cares for, sterilizes and feeds each year. “It seems like a lot but it's actually fewer than the total 20 or even 10 years ago,” says Élise Desaulniers, the Society's Executive Director. “I was recently watching reports from the 1990s about the number of animals being brought here and the euthanasia rate which was so high at the time. People are much more responsible now. They sterilize their animals and buy fewer kittens at the pet shop on a whim. It gives me hope.”


This is the current euthanasia rate, which is at its lowest since the Society's founding. “The rate is even lower for dogs, around 5 to 6%,” says Desaulniers. “We only euthanize animals with serious health or behavioural problems. It's miraculous for an organization like ours, as we don't turn away any animals, unlike other shelters that can decide not to take an animal because he or she seems “unadoptable”.


This is the number of small animals sterilized each day at the SPCA as part of the “Mittens” program that provides care for animals whose owners have limited means and also helps limit overpopulation.


This is the number of wild animals brought to the shelter in 2018. “Our goal is to treat every animal equally, whatever the species,” says Desaulniers. “We're even successful at finding new homes for farm animals. As for raccoons, squirrels, and pigeons, our resources are limited. We're able to save quite a few, but it's always a challenge.”


Each year the Montreal SPCA receives $0 in government subsidies. “We have a contract to inspect animals with the Quebec ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food (MAPAQ) and other contracts to provide services to some of the city's boroughs but these cost us more to run than the contracts bring in,” emphasizes the Society's Executive Director. “Medical treatment, rehabilitation services, defending animal rights, palliative care … we pay for all of these. That's why we must rely on the generosity of our donors and volunteers.”

Photo credit : Montreal SPCA

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