Dogs at exorbitant prices from where we don't really know, sick or of another breed: the operation of a controversial shelter in Saint-Lin-Laurentides is strongly criticized by former employees and customers.
Sarah Miron had quite a surprise when her dog, adopted last December at the regional SPA, in the Laurentians, grew to the point of weighing three times more than her supposed 20 lbs.
Believing she had purchased a small Boston Terrier cross, she discovered that he was actually a mix of three other breeds.
“How many families like us have been fooled into thinking luck was smiling on them? asks Ms. Miron.
Because unlike most shelters in Quebec, many animals for sale are posted on the SPA's Facebook page.
In July alone, 29 cats and 65 dogs, including dozens of puppies, were offered for sale there.
However, there is a price to pay for such an animal at this shelter, around $2,500. In the majority of SPAs and SPCAs, a similar dog sells for less.
Fanny Lemieux, who worked at the shelter in 2019, says the dogs for sale came from "litters that were coming in and you never knew where."
The owners of the regional SPA did not return the Journal's calls yesterday.
Ex-employees have reported seeing several sick animals inside the kennel, claiming that officials did not want to invest money in their health.
Shaken by their condition, staff members were busy finding them a better environment, often through citizen animal rescue groups.
“During the process of finding a place, they had no care and medication. They were suffering [...] It could happen that I arrived in the morning and saw a dead cat or dog in its enclosure, ”says an employee who wishes to remain anonymous.
Hundreds of reviews on Google for the regional SPA and its sister company, L’inspecteur canin, and reports from MAPAQ corroborate what several customers have told us.
Jérémie Lebouthillier left a one star review. He and his girlfriend adopted two cats there.
The youngest, Eclipse, was diagnosed with a very severe ear infection, caused by ear mites. These parasites should have been killed during deworming at the shelter.
“It took a good two months of treatment to get over it. […] Nothing has been done to help us,” he laments.
Leanna Perreault also went through hell with her puppy Enzo. Bought in May, he quickly caught kennel cough, like a sibling from the same litter.
"I'm calling to let them know. They seem very, very surprised, like this is their first time hearing this,” one viral Facebook post read.
She says she is disgusted by their methods.
"Don't go there!" she says.
NOT THE RIGHT BREED
Sarah Miron thought she had bought a small boston terrier mix. After a DNA test, the dog was found to be a mix of staffordshire, belgian shepherd and bullmastiff.
Jérémie Lebouthillier's cat had a very severe ear infection, caused by ear mites, when she was supposed to have been dewormed.
CAUGHT WITH KENNEL COUGH
A week after Leanna Perreault adopted her puppy, the latter caught kennel cough, just like a brother, a highly transmissible disease between dogs.
A woman from Saint-Lin–Laurentides who acted as a foster family for a cat and her babies in June 2021 went through hell as soon as the animals arrived at her home.
Charles Mathieu, Investigation Office
"You take the cat out of the cage and just by touching it underneath you can see it's warm and impacted. I look at the udders, and the poor casserole was in advanced mastitis, ”says Claudia Joly, in an interview with Le Journal.
She was in a "really neglected" state and therefore could not feed her young, who needed milk every two to four hours.
She therefore decided to call the SPA, which she felt was not doing adequate follow-up in the circumstances.
"They tell me they're going to make requests and I don't have an answer. »
She made arrangements and was told that there was no vet on site and that she had to make an appointment like everyone else.
"It's worrying," she said.
Take the things over control
At the time, Ms. Joly was an animal health technician at a veterinary clinic near her home. So, because the follow-up was not adequate and she knew what to do to take care of the animals, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
She therefore had to, at her expense, go to the veterinary clinic where she works so that the cat could receive the necessary treatments, i.e. antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. She also had to bottle-feed the kittens, as the mum couldn't feed her little ones due to the pain.
“If it was someone who doesn't know that, maybe we would have lost the range. They come with the mom, the babies are expected to drink [alone],” says Ms. Joly.
The SPA finally regained possession of the cat, after several calls from Ms. Joly.
Any business can claim to be a Humane Society, regardless of whether they care about animal welfare or not.
Charles Mathieu and Camille Payant, Bureau of Investigation and Le Journal de Montréal
Anyone can found a shelter and take the name SPA or SPCA if they wish, says Corinne Gonzalez, president of the Association québécoise des SPA et SPCA.
Without wanting to comment on the case of the regional SPA, she maintains that the names are not protected.
“This name can be used by anyone. Municipalities don't know it's not regulated," she said.
The City of Saint-Lin–Laurentides, which retains the services of the regional SPA for its animal licenses, will investigate to ensure that the company complies with its standards.
"It's not in line with the values of the City. We are a bit in shock, ”says the City’s communications director, Marilyn Laroche.
Several SPA clients have claimed to have made a complaint to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food about the refuge.
"We can confirm that the file is known to our inspection service and that interventions under the Animal Welfare and Safety Act have taken place over the past few months," says his handler. floor, Yohan Dallaire Boily.
The regional SPA and its sister company, The Canine Inspector, were sentenced in 2021 for irregularities in animal records.
The MAPAQ had notably noted that 11 cats and 4 dogs appeared in the registers, but were not in the establishment.