Behind the Scenes of an Animal Shelter

by Audrey R. on December 6, 2017 - 2:04pm

Throughout the semester, I chose to blog about an issue that is very important to me. It is, of course, the issue of animal abandonment. I got to studying the source of the problem, the results of it in our own province and the way that animal shelters have a huge impact on helping with this issue. I also got to volunteer with an organization which I am very fond of, the Services Animaliers de la Rive-Sud. Following this experience, I created a video montage with all the footage I could get to help people realize that when it comes to pets, adopting is so much better than shopping. 


When a person is thinking of becoming a pet owner, their first reflex is usually to check out the pet shop. What they do not know is that there is a dark reality behind these stores. The people who sell the animals to the pet shop do not have the animal's well-being as a priority. In fact, business is the only thing that counts for them. Most of the dogs that are found for sale in pet shops are bred in puppy mills. Puppy mills are very commercial or industrial places where puppies are produced, almost like a dog factory. The animals are not seen as beings, they are seen as products. The conditions in which the dogs are kept are inhumane and people do not see this when buying them from pet shops. The puppies are often taken away from their mothers when they are much too young. The female dogs used for breeding are often made pregnant too many times and it is difficult for their bodies to keep up. Another way for dogs to be bought from puppy mills is on the internet. Often, people who buy dogs on line think that they are buying from reputable breeders but they are no different than the mills in which pet shop dogs are bred.  


Animal abandonment rates have been on the rise in Quebec for many years. There are many reasons why a person would choose to abandon their pet. People buy animals without really knowing all the responsibilities that come with being a pet owner. The most common reasons for animal abandonment are allergies, lack of time or money and moving to a new place which does not allow pets. These are the factors which cause the shelters to receive a large number of animals which they cannot always keep up with. On a local scale, according to an article on Global News, the Montreal SPCA receives around 600 abandoned animals on average each month. This number multiplied by nearly three times in July due to moving day.  


This high abandonment rate causes overpopulationespecially in the cat department. The shelters do their best to save as many animals as possible, but they simply cannot take in all of them. Many animals are left homeless, waiting for months on end for a family to adopt them. During this time, puppy mills keep on producing puppies, causing the problem to grow. 


This is where animal shelters become important: they do an amazing job at taking in the animals and finding them new homes. When they are found in the streets or dropped off at the shelter, they are taken to be evaluated on the health as well as behavioral aspects. The volunteers get to know the animals and do their best to find families that best fit each one. Sometimes, there are dog behavior specialists working at the shelter who try to correct the behavioral problems. This ensures that all the dogs which are put up for adoption are safe to be adopted. A huge stereotype for dogs from shelters is that they are aggressive and are not suitable for adoption, but in fact it is quite the opposite. The dogs which are put up for adoption at the shelter are "filtered" whereas the dogs for sale at the pet shop can have behavioral problems which stemmed from their past at the puppy mills. Another thing that the shelter does to make sure the dogs are adoptable is grooming them in cases of severe neglect.  


This semester, I got to be a volunteer for a day at an amazing animal shelter, the Services Animaliers de la Rive-Sud. They are based in Boucherville, Québec and have been open since 2012. They have been so successful that they got their own TV show on TVA called "Refuge Animal". During my volunteer experience, I got to follow one of the volunteers around as we took all of the dogs out one by one for their daily outings. I was already familiar with the work of this particular shelter, but I got to see more behind the scenes. What stood out the most to me during my experience is that the dogs waiting for homes are extremely lovable and would make great peats. 


While I was at the shelter, I decided to get as much footage as I could of the animals and the work of the volunteers with the objective of making a montage with the footage. In it, I briefly show the first two sections of the shelter, the exotic animals and the cats. Because my volunteering took place in the dog section, it is the main focus of the video. I present 3 of the dogs which were available for adoption at the time. I end the video by encouraging people to adopt at their local shelters. The goal of the video is to show that there are plenty of good dogs who need homes in animal shelters across Quebec. I wanted to show people that rather than buying from pet shops which encourage cruel breeding procedures, local shelters should be considered for anyone looking to adopt a pet. 


Here is the video: 





Shields, Billy. "Montreal Moving Day Spotlights Animal Abandonment Issues." Global News, 29 June 2014, 21 November 2017. 


"Mission/Vision." Services Animaliers de la Rive-Sud, 21 November 2017. 



I love your post! Its incredibly detailed about pet stores and their problems, why animals are abandoned and then how shelters are trying to fix that problem. I believe Les Services animaliers de la Rive-Sud could improve though, in letting people volunteer more and making it easier for them. I remember you saying in your presentation that it was hard for you to volunteer because you weren't one of their usual volunteers so you didn't have training. But I believe if it would be easier for people to volunteer, it would encourage people to volunteer. And then this way, the animals could have better support and people to play with them while the employees are focused on their daily tasks.

Hi there. I really loved your post and I completely agree with you, animal shelters are very important and do help a lot of animals that have been abandoned. Another organization you could look at is actually the organization that I am volunteering for, which is Engage. If you did not know, Engage works with the animal shelter you volunteered with. Engage is an organization that do hands on workshops that educates kids about animals and their behaviors. Maybe if you are interesting to see how the shelter and Engage work together, you can try to go to one of there workshops. Other than that, your post was very good.

Your post is so interesting! I actually did not know about the puppy mills, I think it is disgusting what they do to those poor animals. Your statistics were very pertinent, and you did not put too many, which makes your post even stronger. I think that your goal in this post is aware people about the issues of animal shelters surpopulation and to show solutions of how to prevent that (less puppy mills and adopt shelter pets rather than those in pet stores). Perhaps to better drawn the attention of potential readers, you should put a picture of the dogs, or you taking care of them. The reader would know, at first sight, what the post is about, without even reading the title yet. Especially nowadays images attract more than writings, people do not read until they see an image of a topic they are interested in. I think a picture inside of the shelter would help you get more attention and therefore help you aware even more people.

Your post was really good and I enjoyed reading it. I learned a lot of new things and I thought your post was very enlighting and descriptive. I agree with you 100% on what you said that adopting is so much better than shopping. I loved your video good job. It made me so happy seeing the animals being so happy. I think you should send the shelter your video and so they could promote it and raise awareness of it. Really good job.

About the author

My name is Audrey Rheaume, and I'm a first year student at Champlain College Saint-Lambert. My main area of focus for my writing is animal welfare, as it is an issue that is very important to me.