Stubborn yet smart, gullible yet loyal, he doesn’t have an I-phone, he doesn’t drive a car, yet we can always, always count on him. He is predictable and trustworthy, he loves routine and a secure environment, he asks for so little yet gives so much more in return. He adores children, especially our daughter, who he pulls on a sled on the coldest days of the year. Temperatures of -30 don’t affect him while he insists on climbing the highest snow mountains he can find as his “master” watches while freezing despite wearing three layers of clothing. He loves to sit in front of the pellet stove with his cat as he pulls clumps of ice from his paws in anticipation of his next walk. In the summer he loves Bar-B-Que’d hot-dogs and never complains if they are burned. He has made friends in the neighborhood who refer to him as “beau chien” and he is allowed to play in their backyards. He has a best friend “Romeo” who he looks for everyday just as a child does when school is over. We value him as if he was our son even though our boy golden retriever “Toffee” is just a dog.
Many Montrealers feel this way about their pets yet, every “Moving Day” (July 1st), over a thousand animals are abandoned largely due to restrictive no pet clauses in residential leases. This leaves thousands of Quebecers with a gut wrenching choice to make when moving day arrives. In order to find rental housing that meets their needs, do they part with their beloved pets? Judging by the latest statistics, the answer unfortunately is yes as the SPCA receives almost 1600 pets this time of year, a number almost triple their usual monthly intake.
Quebecers are not the only ones who love their pets and are faced with this agonizing decision. In 2006 Ontario’s Residential Tenancies act was amended and the “no pets” provision was made null and void because it was deemed unreasonable and unfair. Loosely translated, a landlord in Ontario cannot evict a tenant just because he or she has a pet even if the tenant signed a lease with a “no pets” clause as long as the pet is a good tenant. Why then, is Quebec not following this example?
Fortunately, we can take action. The SPCA recently launched the “Keeping families together” (www.stoppetabandonment.com) campaign in hopes that if enough people support it, things will change.
Although it is sad to say, the no pets clause is not the only reason we abandon our pets. Sometimes, we are just negligent and forget that a pet is a life-long responsibility just like a child is. For anyone out there who is considering abandoning your pet, I urge you not to. An animal’s life is just as valuable as a human’s and I believe Montreal is a good enough place that it realizes this. If Mahatma Ghandi was correct and “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”, then Montreal has a chance to show it can progress by taking better care of its most vulnerable.