Behind the Scenes of an Animal Shelter

by Audrey R. on Décembre 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. 


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.