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Johanne Tasse of CAACQ asked me what I was interested in doing in Montreal and I told her and she pretty well organized this trip for us. We have supper with her the first night we're in town. She picks us up from the Novotel and we drive to a Lebanese joint, Johanne taking us through u-turns and parking lots to get there. We get out of the car and by the time we get to the table, she's already said hello to three or four people in the place.

If anyone's going to transform Quebec's animal welfare practices, it's going to be Johanne Tasse. She doesn't get her hands dirty. The dog walking, the poop scooping - that's not her thing. Her thing is getting into the heads of the people who make the money decisions, the politicians and business owners. She started out by helping a local rescue with their adoptions. Take a big leap from there and she's recently just secured an animal welfare contract for Laval, Quebec's third largest city. She's going to bring that city's shelter services up to date from the dreadful state it's in now. She talks about bringing up a mobile spay/neuter bus from New York, a $350,000 unit to show to the municipal and provincial powers that this is what is needed to solve the pet overpopulation problem in Quebec.

She drives us on this tour of the region's pounds. She knows the route. She points out all the dogs tied up in backyards, the breeders, the pet store/pound/shelters. She talks about the vets' infighting, the petty politicians, the politicians with foresight, the crazy animal people, the best animal people.

"You have to know who to have in your inner circle," she says. "I don't have to love you. I have to know you can bring something to the organization."

She takes us on this tour of the region and we visit centers of suffering and centers of reprieve. We see dogs who are alive but there is only death in their eyes, dogs who are brand new and don't understand yet, dogs who are still waiting for an outstretched hand. At one place there are two buildings. In one building there are the presentable dogs. In the other building, which is the size of a small cottage, which we're not allowed into, there are 75 dogs in cages and there is a virus, something unknown, something which will remain undetermined because the place has no money for a vet, barely any money for food and who knows what will happen to those dogs.

3 Comments to “Road trip 6”

  1. Luan says:

    I wish more people thought like Johanne Tasse and had her level of commitment and energy. Thanks for taking the time to make this trip and blogging it. People need to know and understand what is happening and what needs to be done to change the system!

  2. siouxee says:

    I wonder why our government and system disregards animal life like this. So much suffering, when will we ever change?

  3. deva says:

    I admire you and Johanne and everyone else who tries to help these dogs on an ongoing basis. I am thrilled about the ones who are being transferred from the shelter, but unfortunately all I can think about is the dogs with death in their eyes. Are there other transfer programs that can help them? I know there are so many, but...

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.