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Old July 8th, 2003, 12:23 PM
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Pets abandoned amid moving day chaos

Canadian Press
Not everybody will get a new home on Quebec's July 1 annual moving day.

City-run shelters have been set up to handle the human crunch of people who couldn't find or couldn't afford new accommodations as Montreal copes with continued tight vacancy rates.

But more than 500,000 of Quebec's four-legged residents will be left to aimlessly wander the streets, peer anxiously from behind cage bars or simply be killed if no one adopts them.

"Right now we have exceeded the capacity of the shelter," said Pierre Barnoti, director of the Montreal branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The organization's two Montreal shelters now house around 600 animals.

"Every tenant who's trying to move into a dwelling and has a pet has a problem in Quebec. Less and less landlords are tolerant of pets."

Most of the abandoned animals are cats -- about 65 per cent -- and the remainder are dogs.

Quebec displays one more example of its distinctiveness from the rest of Canada on July 1. When the rest of the country is focused on celebrating the country's birth, Quebecers are lugging furniture.

July 1 has been the province's official moving day since 1973, when it was legislated to ease disruptions to the school year caused by the old moving date, May 1.

That means most of the leases in the province end on the same day, clogging the streets with moving vans and filling the air with grunts.

Often, Fido and Kitty are not toted along with the dishes and chairs.

They get dropped off somewhere away from home, often lured away from their owner by what appears to be a friendly game of fetch _ except the owner disappears before the dog brings back the ball. Other times they're simply abandoned until someone hands them over to the SPCA.

Barnoti said the stress brought on by the abandonment often compromises the animal's immune system and sometimes it has to be put down when it becomes ill.

"These are fantastic animals," Barnoti said. "There is nothing wrong with them except that the people who own them cannot have them any more in order to find an apartment.

"Luckily, we've been increasing our adoptions every year for the past 10 years. I believe we have the record in Canada for the largest number of animals adopted so I still hang on to the hope that I won't have to euthanize too many animals."

Barnoti didn't have cross-Canada figures for abandoned animals but it's more likely a seasonal concern. No other province mandates a single moving day and leases are staggered.

But John Levi, president of the Canadian Association of Movers, said movers are still kept hopping.

"This is the busiest season of the year for movers as kids come out of school, as job transfers occur mostly over the summer and people's leases on their rental accommodation come up at the end of the month," he said from Mississauga, Ont.

Alan DeSousa, a member of the city of Montreal's executive committee, urged people to think twice before abandoning their pet.

"It's an act of cruelty to the animal because it risks dying of cold, hunger, illness or injuries," he said. "As well, they create a public nuisance because in reproducing, they give birth to other strays."

DeSousa, along with Patricia Tulasne of the Quebec Society for the Protection of Animals, urged people to find new homes for their pets instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.

Copyright 2003 Canadian Press
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