Looking out for the little guy: Our main dog run will be partitioned for small and larger dogs

As the city councillor responsible for Animal Protection, I am pleased to announce that after a period of consultation our main dog run on Mackle Road will soon be sub-divided for large and small canines.

Our main dog run has lots of space.


Over the past year I have received many complaints that smaller dogs were being attacked by larger ones. While the incidents might no have been that frequent, the fact this was happening at all was of great concern. The vast majority of our dog owners are responsible individuals. At the dog run itself, people get along nicely and so do the animals. It is wonderful to see them run free and play together. But we have heard stories of dog owners who are allowing what amounts to acts of bullying by their pets. In some cases, small dogs have been seriously injured.

More than a year ago I established an ad hoc dog run advisory committee. I’d like to thank Abe Haim and Jason Balinsky, two of my constituents who took a leadership role from day one. They have helped steer this discussion in the correct manner, talking to owners at the dog run and holding two public meetings at City Hall.

Abe Haim and Cooper.

Hats off to Beatrice Newman, our director of Public Works  and foreman Thierry Dhaisne for working with us on this project. In the next few weeks fencing will be installed. Naturally, the larger dogs will get more space. The area itself is quite large.

This was the prudent thing to do.

We also hope to have a decision made soon on a second dog run on the other side of the city, near Meadowbrook Golf Course. Councillor Steven Erdelyi has been leading those discussions.

The other night I met with a number of dog owners on Sir Walter Scott Avenue. They’d like to see more access for dogs in our parks and I agree. In fact, this is an issue I have been advocating for many years and last spring we made a positive first step. While dogs are  still not allowed in most public parks and playgrounds  exceptions have now been made at  Aaron Hart Park along David Lewis St., Harold Greenspon Park on Borden Ave., the green space between Marc Chagall Ave. and the parking lot of the Bernard Lang Civic Centre soon to be renamed Library Lane, the green space on Baily Rd. between Northluc and Cavendish, the green space on Baily Rd. between Lyndale and Glencrest, and a section of Kirwan Park between Blossom and Wentworth.   Council wants to evaluate how this process went first before deciding on any future adjustments.  

From the Free Press Newspaper: Dog owner flouting leash laws raises concerns

Dog owner flouting leash laws raises concerns

By Isaac Olson

Harvey Fox, a resident of a 220-unit apartment complex on Adalbert Ave., says there is a tenant in
his building who re- fuses to leash his problematic dogs, but police won’t accept citizen-captured
video footage, witness testimony or photo- graphic evidence as an enforcement tool. “He just
lets them run wild,” Fox told the Côte St. Luc city council on January 23, describing the dogs as
pit bull and husky mixes. He said that he has made numerous complaints to Public Security and
police, but in order to enforce the city’s leash by-law “they need to see it them-

Fox said the man’s dogs have attacked his own on January 4 and when he tried to intervene “like a
rag in a thunderstorm, I was tossed around.”

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein noted that this type of incident can be reported to po- lice, but, Fox
replied, there were no dam- ages. He said the problem is that police are waiting until someone gets
hurt rather than responding to complaints.

The man was caught once, said Fox, but it has not deterred him from walking his dogs without a
leash. It has continued to be a problem, he noted, since last spring. Fox said he tries calling 911
and Public Security when he sees the man walking his dogs off leash, but “they don’t want to deal with it.”
Fox admitted that it is a difficult case to enforce, but it would be a lot easier if police could,
at the very least, rely on video footage captured by citizens.

Brownstein said he will look into boost- ing patrols around specific times. Brown- stein said he
will have the city’s director of city services look into what can be done. He said the city will
look into what type of evidence is accepted and “we will work to- gether with you.”

Councillor Mike Cohen, responsible for animal welfare in the city, thanked Fox for bringing the
problem forward. He said there was a similar issue on Rembrandt Ave. where the dog owner was
finally caught and ticketed. It worked for a while, but then the owner was eventually seen walking
the dogs off leash again.

“This is unacceptable,” said Cohen, call ing it a typical example of the pet owner being the
problem, not the pet. “The owner has got to take responsibility. Please continue to let us know and
I send that message out to anybody in the community who is experiencing a similar situation be-
cause most dog owners in Côte St. Luc are very responsible.”

What to do about pit bulls and dangerous dogs in our community

While the Quebec government studies the issues of dangerous dogs and consults with municipalities, many of which have already implemented bans on pit bulls in particular, the City of Côte Saint-Luc is reinforcing an existing bylaw.

Our most recent bylaw regarding dangerous dogs was adopted in 2009. In the wake of a series of high-profile dog attacks, our Public Safety Department has sent letters to current owners of pit bulls in our community that we have on record, asking that they be muzzled. This will be extended to other dogs we deem to be potentially dangerous.A

Alanna Devine of the Montreal SPCA has let me know how she feels about the issue."Breed specific legislation is ineffective, unenforceable and unfair," she noted. "It doesn’t do anything to make communities safer and punishes responsible dog owners who happen to have dogs that look a specific way. Even with grandfather clauses,  many adoptable dogs and puppies in shelters will be condemned to death because there will be nowhere for them to go. They won’t be able to be adopted because of the way that they look."

According to our present bylaw, a "dangerous dog" means: a dog which has a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack, bite, threaten, or injure, with or without provocation, any persons, property or other animals; with or without provocation or physical injury, attacks, bites, or threatens any person, property; a domestic animal that has been trained for dog fighting or to attack upon a command . In the event that the owner and/or custodian of a dangerous dog fails to comply with the obligation to muzzle the animal when on any public property throughout the city of Côte Saint-Luc, he shall be liable to a fine.

Pit BullIs this strong enough?  I do not think so, given recent events. This is why we really need the government to step in. As the city councillor responsible for Animal Protection, I know how it must feel for someone who has a pet they love, only to be threatened to have it taken away via legislation. Several municipalities do have laws on the books banning pit bulls. However, they are not the only breeds that pose a threat. We will wait to see what the Quebec government decides for that will impact on our future actions. An advisory group, though, does not appear to pushing for a pit bull ban according to this report. In the meantime, I wish to urge the owners of dogs considered to be dangerous to please use a muzzle.

Again, Alanna commented: "Responsible dog owners who happen to have a dog that looks a certain way end up being harassed and discriminated against – and forcing dogs to have muzzles reinforces the false notion that these dogs are somehow ‘dangerous’ – which is scientifically untrue."

The City of Laval wants Ottawa to make changes to the Criminal Code of Canada to create uniform rules across the country to deal with the problem of dangerous dogs. Right now, it's possible to charge owners of dogs who attack people with criminal negligence, but it rarely happens. Laval Mayor Marc Demers said that the article in the Criminal Code dealing with criminal negligence should be amended to make specific reference to the responsibilities of dog owners."We would like the federal government to do its homework, so it would be all across Canada the same thing, it won't change from city to city," Demers told CBC News."That way, across the country, if you bring up your dog to be vicious so he may attack somebody, you are responsible for that."

In recent weeks we have had some disturbing incidents in our own community. At one park, three people with large dogs (a pit bull, a rottweiler and another breed ) were approached by a Public Security agent and asked to leave the premises with the dogs. The owner responded that her dogs were trained to attack on command and loosened her grip on the leash. Fearing for his safety, the agent called immediately for police back-up who arrived, handcuffed the woman in the back of the police car and pointed a Taser at one of the men. Police declarations were filled out and we believe charges were filed against one or all of the individuals involved.

Meanwhile, we had a pit bull attack when the dog escaped from a ground floor apartment and attacked a pug. The dog in question already had a muzzle order in place. Public Security and police were on scene. We issued tickets and the police pressed criminal negligence charges against the owner.

As of January 1, 2017, any dog on a list of banned breeds in Quebec City will be prohibited. Anyone caught with a banned dog will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offence. The City of Montreal is working to come up with a uniform set of rules regarding "dangerous dogs" across its 19 boroughs, but won't say if it's leaning toward an all-out ban on any particular breed. Here is a recent TV report.

In Ontario a pit bull ban was proposed in 2004 after a number of cases in which people were badly injured in pit bull attacks. It was passed in 2005. "The legislation bans pit bulls in Ontario, places restrictions on existing pit bulls, and toughens the penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public," Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General says on its website.

The legislation, called the Dog Owners' Liability Act, defines a pit bull as a pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or any dog "that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar.

Portion of Hudson Avenue to be renamed Sidney Shoham Place after legendary rabbi

A little more than a month ago I got a call from Earl Rosen, the president of Beth Zion Congregation on Hudson Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc. He wanted my feedback as a city councillor in regards to how we could honour the memory of the legendary Rabbi Sidney Shoham, who passed away last September.

I knew Rabbi Shoham practically all of my life. He spoke at my Bar Mitzvah and I had the pleasure of speaking to and seeing him so often. It is hard to believe he is no longer among us!

Rabbi Shoham at our golf luncheon last July.

In disussion with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Allan J. Levine, the councillor for District 5, we agreed that naming the portion of Hudson Avenue where Beth Zion is located Sidney Shoham Place would be a fitting honour. Our Director of Claims and Litigation/Acting Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Jonathan Shecter and Director of Public Works and Communications Darryl Levine were asked to work with the synagogue. As a result, not only will Hudson, between Kildare and the synagogue be renamed but the civic address will become 1 Place Sidney Shoham Place.

Rosen made the formal announcement to congregants on April 30. Councillor Levine was in attendance. “The response was tremendous,” he told me.

The street re-naming ceremony will take place on Sunday, September 25, 2016, with all of Rabbi Shoham’s family in town. The time of the event will be announced later this summer.

Côte Saint-Luc will issue a formal statement on Monday.

Rabbi Shoham passed away on September 20, 2015 at age 86. He served as rabbi at Beth Zion Congregation for more than 50 years.

Here is the blog I wrote from his funeral.


Bravo to Rabbi Poupko and CIJA on animal rights position

After initial review of Bill 54 – An Act to Improve the Legal Situation of Animals, Rabbi Reuben Poupko, Co-Chair of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus, a member of the executive committee of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs-Québec (CIJA-Québec), spiritual leader of Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation and a resident of District 2 in Côte Saint-Luc,issued the following statement:

“We commend the government’s efforts to advance animal welfare in Quebec. Animal welfare is strongly valued by the Jewish community; Judaism strictly prohibits gratuitous cruelty to animals. This is why Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechita, is as quick and painless as humanly possible. Indeed, in its presentation yesterday to the National Assembly Committee studying the Bill, the Animal Legal Defense Fund acknowledged that properly performed ritual slaughter is humane and does not cause undue cruelty to animals.

Rabbi Poupko

“CIJA-Québec will submit a brief to the Committee to ensure legislators hear the perspective of the organized Jewish community. Our submission will demonstrate that shechita conforms entirely to the objectives of Bill 54.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA. CIJA is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of Jewish life in Canada by advancing the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community. 

As the city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc responsible for Animal Protection, I could not be happier to see leaders like Rabbi Poupko looking out for the rights of animals. Now if I only I can convince him to adopt a cat!



My report from the 2015 National Animal Welfare Conference

As the Côte Saint-Luc city councillor responsible for animal protection, I was pleased to represent our community at the 2015 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) National Animal Welfare Conference. It was held at the River Rock Casino May 2 to 4 in Richmond, BC and attracted 350 people from across the country. This conference is considered the pre-eminent venue for thought-leadership, sharing of ideas, networking and learning about animal welfare.  

Genevieve Pépin, Alanna Devine and Johanne Tassé

Besides myself, other Quebecers on hand included Johanne Tassé from the Companion Animal Adoption Centres of Québec (CAACQ), SPCA Montreal executive director Nicolas Gillman and Director of Animal Advocacy Alanna Devine and Director of Operations Genevieve Pépin,  veterinarian Dr. Vincent Paradis and Mark  Hagen from R.C. Hagen Pet Supplies.

DR. MARK BEKOFF:   Dr.  Mark Bekoff was the opening night keynote speaker. His subject was Rewilding our hearts: Animal emotions, compassionate conservation, and the importance of individual animals. In his talk Dr. Bekoff discussed the notion of personal rewilding,  how animal emotions and compassionate conservation, for which the guideline is “first do no harm,” figure into what we all need to do in the immediate future. In wildlife conservation, rewilding refers to restoring habitats and creating corridors between preserved lands to allow declining populations to rebound. Dr. Bekoff, one of the world's leading animal experts and activists, applies rewilding to human attitudes. In his book called Rewilding Our Hearts he invites readers to do the essential work of becoming re-enchanted with the world, acting from the inside out, and dissolving false boundaries to truly connect with both nature and themselves.

BC MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE: Norm Letnick is the Minister of Agriculture for British Columbia. Canada nor the provinces have Ministers with actual "Animal Welfare" portfolios. It falls under Agriculture.  In Quebec, Pierre Paradis fulfils this role. Letnick clearly has a soft place in his heart for companion animals and he proudly noted that his Ministry recently gave $5 million to support the BC SPCA’s Facilities Development and Services Plan. The latter is an eight-year strategy, totalling $50.4 million to replace or renovate aging BC SPCA infrastructure in 10 communities across British Columbia – the largest capital plan in the organization’s 120-year history. Projects will include new community animal centres, facilities to house seized farm animals, storefront adoption centres and facilities to promote increased community access to spay/neuter services.  Amy Morris, a graduate of Concordia University and a policy and outreach officer for BC SPCA, hopes the government will continue to contribute the campaign in the coming years,

Letnick spoke out against animal cruelty and listed the heavy penalties that exist for animal cruelty. “Animal welfare is a team effort – and requires governments, organizations like the BC SPCA, and all citizens to work together and be vigilant to ensure all animals in British Columbia are treated with the due care and respect they deserve,” the Minister stated,

 Letnick said that he previously had a shelter dog (a dog rescued from a shelter). The pet passed away and because of his busy schedule as a minister he has not adopted another dog at this time. “When I do,” he promised, “it will be from a shelter.”

PETLAND:  I met with Amy Pawson Blackwell. She is the director of operations for Petland, a chain of pet stores stretching from BC to Manitoba.  A one-time resident of Pointe Claire (and a member of the swim team there and at St. Thomas High School), she told me how Petland has partnerships with all animal welfare organizations and since 2010 has had 10,000 animals adopted “It is our desire at Petland to make a difference in the communities we serve,” she said. “For more than 38 years, Petland has been the retail pet industry leader in the area of animal care with ongoing staff training programs, in-store animal care  systems and community service programs aimed at placing homeless pets and curbing pet overpopulation in the community.”

Petland has taken a leadership role in the area of public education on spaying and neutering as a way to halt pet overpopulation, and implemented a pro-active adoption program for the placement of homeless litters of puppies and kittens, whether from a shelter, pet rescue group or just a member of the local community. Class tours are arranged for schools where youngsters learn to finger-tame a parakeet. Equally gratifying, she explains, is the look on a senior citizen's face while holding a Petland kitten. Petland therapy is a natural extension of their retail environment and the store’s pet counsellors love visiting schools and nursing homes. Store operators collect donations for charities, hold fundraisers for local animal care groups and give generously of themselves with cash donations to select community causes. A number of important community service programs exist at Petland. They include: Adopt-A-Pet; Pets for a Lifetime; Pet Therapy; Stop Pet Overpopulation; and Spay/Neuter Your Pet.  It is too bad they do not exist in Quebec!

CARS, CATS, CLIMATE CHANGE AND “PRACTICAL” ETHIC FOR ANIMALS: Professor David Fraser from the University of BC spoke on the subject.  From his childhood on a farm in southern Ontario, Prof. Fraser has maintained a fascination with animals throughout his 43-year research career. With a degree in psychology (Toronto) and a PhD in zoology (Glasgow), Prof. Fraser did research on the welfare of farm animals (Edinburgh School of Agriculture, 1971-1975) and on the behaviour and management of moose (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 1975-1981) before developing a research team on farm animal welfare and behaviour at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa (1981-1997). He joined UBC in 1997 and is currently cross-appointed between the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics. He is an enthusiastic teacher who mentors many graduate students and takes the leading role in the award-winning course,” Animal Welfare and the Ethics of Animal Use.”  He logs 100,000 km per year in lecture trips.  

Prof. Fraser also works with many organizations to find practical ways to improve the lives of animals. He has served as an advisor on animal welfare to many organizations including the Burger King Corporation (Miami), the Food Marketing Institute and National Council of Chain Restaurants (Washington), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Rome), and within Canada on the Board of Trustees of the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada. Currently he serves as a member of the Animal Welfare Working group of the World Organisation for Animal Health (Paris), and within Canada as a member of the National Council for Farm Animal Health and Welfare.

Prof. Fraser emphasized how the effects of people on animals can be considered under four broad categories:  the keeping of animals for food, companionship and other purposes; deliberate harm to animals in slaughter, hunting and biomedical research; direct but unintended effects on animals caused by crop production, forest cutting, transportation and other activities, and the indirect effects of human activities that disturb natural systems, for example by spreading pathogens, introducing non-native species, using toxic chemicals, and climate change. The first two categories have been the focus of animal welfare science and animal ethics philosophy, whereas the third and fourth categories have been more the focus of conservation and environmental ethics. In reality, the latter two categories cause such classic animal welfare problems as suffering, injury and death on a vast scale, and the harms can be expected to worsen as human population and prosperity increase. Moreover, whereas the harms caused by intentional actions can often be controlled and mitigated, harms caused unintentionally or indirectly are generally less amenable to control. A challenge for the 21st century is to being unintended and indirect harms to animals into the realm of animal welfare and animal ethics. Attention to these types of harm should also help to unify animal welfare and conservation.

One of the beautiful animal companion stamps unveiled at the conference

CANADA POST: Greg Kabatoff, director of retail business (Western Canada) for Canada Post, officially unveiled a new set of stamps under the theme “Pets are family too!” This stamp issue celebrates the companionship, joy and loyalty between pets and pet owners. There are five stamps that serve as reminders of the need for good pet care: spay/neuter; exercise; vet care; hydration; and identification. Designed by Lara Minja and illustrated by Geneviève Simms, this stamp issue is a collaborative effort with the CFHS.  It is now our role to help spread the word to help raise public awareness of pet guardianship with these animated and colourful stamps. More than half of Canadian households are home to a furry, feathered or finned friend—including 10 million cats, 5.5 million dogs and many other types of pets. Our animal companions give us unconditional love and loyalty. In return, we take on important responsibilities for their care

The Love Your Pet stamp issue was developed with the CFHS to promote ways to keep pets happy and healthy. The warm, whimsical illustrations remind us of all the joy our pets give us. They bring to life five  basic ways pet owners look after their furry friends: provide them with exercise, make sure they can be identified if lost, keep them cool in hot weather and never leave them alone in a vehicle in warm weather, spay or neuter them and regularly take them to the vet

AMONG ANIMALS- ENGAGING YOUTH THROUGH A MULTIFACTED HUMANE EDUCATION PROGRAM: Craig Naherniak and Paula Neuman from the BC SPCA gave an excellent presentation on how they go about sensitizing and engaging youth to issues revolving around animal welfare.

The Henrik Sedin cover page.

The ages of eight to 13 represent the most critical point when empathy is developed among children. This process reduces bullying and encourages healing through the human animal bond. The goal is to prevent violence, cruelty and bullying before it occurs. Kids will become leaders and speak up for animals. A challenge is the fact they have way more girls than boys in their programs. The latest Bark Magazine has Henrik Sedin on  the cover with a kitten. We were told when brought into a school they said ‘oh cool, Henrik Sedin.’ Girls said, ‘cool a kitten,’”

All kids in BC learn the Five Freedoms of animal welfare: Freedom from Hunger and Thirst; Freedom from Pain and Injury; Freedom from distress; Freedom from discomfort; and Freedom to express behaviors that promote wellbeing,

Direct experiences with animals helps validate an animal as a subject, not an object and contributes to respect for the species.  

Students can become ambassadors of social change.   

The BC SPCA has 7,000 kids in its Kids Club every year.  They are immediately placed on a mailing list to receive a newsletter or magazine which will be sent out indefinitely. This continues to ensure that they receive the message.

As Paula Neuman pointed out, the program teaches kids about proper care, wildlife issues and farm animal issues. Kids teach their parents, friends and family. “If kids love us, parents usually do too,” she said.  “We can dispel myths about animal issues. We can change attitudes of kids. It is a place for boys to show nurturing behavior and helps socialize some of the animals.”

Setting up Kids zones at community events further helps raise awareness about animal welfare.

Summer camps represent an excellent opportunity to get this message out and I would love to see our city implement something in this area. Camp staff need to be educated first.  Guest speakers, such as individuals with guide dogs, are popular. You can initiate indoor games, such as board games, “Jeopardy,” and crafts.  It is good for kids to take on action projects, such as learning to make presentations.  In some cases, animals are brought in to the camp.

There are also, of course, school-based programs. This reaches kids who might not have experience with animals. Teachers can become leaders and ambassadors while kids can proceed to teach their parents, friends and family.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, wife Laureen and a kitten.

ANIMAL MATTERS - PUTTING ANIMAL WELFARE ON THE POLITICAL AGENDA: Kim Elmslie, Patricia Zaat and Andreas Krebs from the CFHS and International Fund for Animal Welfare (, made this presentation. With the next federal election scheduled for October 19, 2015, it was emphasized how this is the opportunity to make animals matter. An animal cannot go up to Parliament Hill so we need to be their voice. The Federal Criminal Code is not strong enough when it comes to animal cruelty. Lobbying is very important at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.  The Green Party has an animal welfare platform, but none of the others do. It was agreed that candidates from the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP should all be approached and asked for meetings on animal welfare. Why do their parties not have a platform on this? Would they agree to work towards one? Krebs noted that the goal is to elect more animal friendly MPs - there are about 12 now and they wish to double this.  There are a lot of animal lovers in Canada, but the major political parties don’t speak to us. A survey will soon go out to candidates nominated, with a list of five questions. Volunteers are being sought to get involved with this initiative. The IFAW will identify candidates in ridings who have the most to offer for animals. It is clear that Canadians love animals - two-thirds of Canadians have pets at home.

Elmslie said it is important for people to stand up and say how important animals are to us.

There was a story about a cat that wanted to be mayor. In Tux We Trust, Tuxedo Stan for Halifax Mayor.. After the election they secured $80,000 for the Nova Scotia SPCA. Stan died soon after. His brother Earl may now run for Prime Minister. There is a cat in Alaska who has been mayor for nine years

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife is passionate about cats and has secured funding for initiatives. The PM does generally love cats. At 24 Sussex they have a cat room. Laureen pushes for the adoption of feral cats.

Politicians are going out on the campaign trail and they might want to pose for photos with animals at shelters.

IDENTIFYING THE (IMPORTANT) FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE CAT POPULATION CRISIS: Tyler Flockhart and Jason Coe from the Department of Population Medicine from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph gave a presentation of paramount interest to the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee and our partners at Educhat - the cat population crisis.

The speakers alluded to a CFHS Shelter report released in 2013. They studied an overall intake of 103,433 cats brought into 90 shelters: 60 percent were stray, 28 percent surrender by their owners and seven percent transferred. The outcome saw 47 percent adopted, three percent returned to owners and 33 percent euthanized. The true figure of cats going into shelters in Canada is believed to be closer to 600,000 on an annual basis.

What is driving the cat overpopulation crisis? Cats are not valued as much as dogs. Many cat owners are simply irresponsible, much of which can be attributed to a lack of real education. If large scale targeted action is not taken, the cat overpopulation problem will worsen, and there is no one stakeholder or group seeking a solution

There needs to be more accessible spay/neuter surgeries, increased adoption strategies, humane education, appropriate funding, responsible pet ownership and a measureable objectives or goals.

Tyler described a study he did to determine the number of homeless cats in Guelph. A student was engaged for two months. The authors of the study identified 120 potential spots to find homeless cats. From there the student proceeded to spend time at each one of those locales, doing a manual count. Based on the formula established by the authors, it was determined that there were anywhere from 21,240 to 38,576 of what they called “free roaming” cats for a city with a population of 44,710 households. Given the fact Côte Saint-Luc’s population is 32,000, could our numbers be anywhere close to that? As the authors move forward, their goal is to refine their population data and further develop methods to count cats.

STAKEHOLDERS’ INPUT INTO RESEARCH ON COMPANION ANIMAL OVERPOPULATION AND RELINQUISHMENT:    Jason Coe headlined this session as well, during which the entire room was broken up into groups of five people each and asked to share our thoughts on five topics: relinquishment, overpopulation, shelter management, hot topics regarding companion animals and research resources. It was a very interesting exercise. I met Shelley Roche, who run Tiny Kittens in Fort Langley, BC. This started out as a foster home for cats and kittens rescued by a local no-kill shelter, the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS). LAPS has limited space, and relies on foster homes like Shelley's  to care for kittens and other high risk animals until they are able to be adopted. In March 2015, Tiny Kittens became a registered non-profit society in order to continue to develop new cat welfare programs. Their website,, has a webcam operating 24/7.

CATS COUNT IN CANADA: A NATIONAL STAGE FOR A LOCAL ISSUE: CFHS CEO Barbara Cartwright led this session about cats.  She noted that the CFHS has a cat overpopulation task force. This is a very local issue that has been placed on the national stage. The first task was to obtain some data, this being the largest multi-stakeholder research projects on cats in Canadian communities. In 2013 the CFHS went across the country and had meetings in every single province.

Shelters across Canada have been facing a serious cat overpopulation problem for the last few decades. Far more cats are admitted into shelters than dogs. Some are found roaming as strays, and some are pets surrendered by their owners who can no longer care for them. Cats usually take much longer to adopt out than dogs, and some are never adopted. Many healthy, adoptable cats are euthanized in shelters if they aren’t adopted within a specific time or when shelters run out of space in which to keep them. Based on our national surveys of shelters, the CFHS estimates that about half of all cats admitted to shelters in Canada end up being euthanized. While some of these cats have to be put down due to untreatable illnesses, a significant proportion of them would have been spared that fate if they had been adopted.

Many people are not interested in adopting an older cat from a shelter, further contributing to the challenge of finding homes for shelter cats. Even though adult cats have a lot to offer prospective owners, many are passed over in favour of kittens.

The homeless cat problem in Canada is mainly due to irresponsible pet owners letting their cats roam free without identification and/or without being spayed or neutered. It is surprising to learn just how many cats in Canada are not properly identified either through tags or microchipping. In most municipalities, cats don’t need to be licensed either. The result? If an owner doesn’t proactively contact shelters and pounds in their area to look for their lost cat, reuniting the cat with its owner is next to impossible. Humane societies commonly report that only a tenth of the lost cats admitted to their shelters are ever reclaimed by owners.

Un-spayed and un-neutered cats that roam contribute to the overpopulation problem by giving birth to unwanted litters of kittens year after year. Owners of male cats allowed to roam outside may never know that their cat has fathered a litter — or two, or twenty! Many people think that spaying and neutering is unnecessary or too costly, but the unwanted litters cost money by taking up space in shelters; essentially, the cost is passed on to the wider community to bear.

Spaying/neutering is the responsibility of all pet owners, but for some owners, the cost of spaying or neutering can be a deterrent to getting it done. Several municipalities, humane societies and SPCAs are now offering low-cost spay/neuter programs or clinics to address this problem.

The CFHS annual shelter statistics were released last December, revealing that feline adoption rates have increased, euthanasia rates have decreased and fewer cats were taken in by shelters. The 2013 data was collected from 90 shelters across Canada, representing the best information about companion animals in Canadian shelters. Not only has the cat adoption rate increased, for the first time it has surpassed the dog rate. More Canadians are bringing shelter cats into their homes. When the CFHS began systematically collecting shelter statistics in 1993 only 28 percent of cats who entered shelters were adopted, and a staggering 60 percent of cats were euthanized. In 2013 the adoption rate jumped to 53 percent and the euthanasia rate dropped to 37 percent,  Surprisingly, lost cats are less likely to be reunited with their owners now than in the past – in fact the reclaimed by owner rate for cats has actually dropped over time. In 2013 only 3.5 percent of cats in shelters were reunited with their owners. Reclaim rates for cats have consistently been 5 percent or less, at their highest in the late 1990s

Shelters in neighborhoods are overwhelmed with the number of cats in crisis – just like every other SPCA and humane society across the country. The CFHS is working at the national level developing new and innovative programs to help them get more cats off the streets and into loving homes. After months of months of ground-breaking and intense industry research, the CFHS’s Cat Overpopulation task force is preparing a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder report that includes practical, hands-on tools for our members across the country to use as they struggle to address their local homeless cat issue.

The good news is that every Canadian can take action to save cats’ lives. To re-phrase an old anti-feline saying, there is more than one way to save a cat. Here are six:

  • ADOPT. Adopt a cat from an animal shelter or animal rescue group. Remember: kittens are cute, but adult cats are the ones whose lives are most at risk.
  • FOSTER:Give a temporary home to a cat in need by volunteering to foster cats or kittens for your local humane society, SPCA or cat rescue group. By fostering, you save two lives: one of the cat you foster (who might not have survived in the stressful shelter environment), and one of the animal who benefits from an extra space freed up in the shelter.
  • SPAY OR NEUTER YOUR CAT.Help cut off cat overpopulation at the source. If your cat isn’t spayed or neutered, ask yourself: can you guarantee that each and every kitten your cat might produce will end up in a secure, permanent home?
  • ID YOUR CAT. Even indoor cats can escape and end up lost. By giving your cat permanent identification like a microchip and a tag with your address and contact information, you dramatically decrease the risk that she could become lost and never found.
  • DONATE. The problem we face is deep and it’s complicated. By taking action TODAY and supporting the CFHS’s homeless cat crisis response you are helping us put solutions into the hands of shelters across the country. .
  • ADVOCATE FOR CATS by writing letters to your local government representatives. Ask them to pass by-laws that encourage or require residents to register, ID and spay or neuter their cats. Local governments can also prohibit residents from letting cats roam outdoors, keeping cats (and birds) much safer.

Recommendations included more accessible spay/neuter programs, public education (responsible pet ownership and increase the value of cats), the need for legislation and adequate enforcement of bylaws

Universal accessible spay neuter came up in all meetings. So did relationship building with vets and with municipalities

How can we increase the value of cats? Research determined that besides more education and media attention were festivals - one being the Just for Cats Festivals which now take place at 18 communities across the country.  In Toronto, a thousand people came out to watch free internet cat videos. Launched at the Toronto International Film Festival. The National Post did an entire week of cat-themed stories. There were 18 such festivals. June will be Cat Month.  Real Men Love Cats/ Cats and Bros.

SAVE MORE FELINES...LAUNCH A KITTEN BRIGADE:  Ashley Britton, Manager, Volunteers for the Ottawa Humane Society, spoke about a foster program initiative in 2013 called The Kitten Brigade. May to October represents the busiest time when it comes to dealing with homeless cats.

The Ottawa Humane Society launched the Kitten Brigade in 2013 to deal with the hundreds of felines needing foster homes each summer. The warm weather means cats are being marched into the OHS by the boxful. Intake jumps from an average of 12 animals per day to 50 on the busiest summer days. These tiny kittens, pregnant moms and sick cats need volunteers who can provide temporary homes away from the shelter, helping to reduce their stress and keep them healthy, until they are ready for adoption. Last year, brigade volunteers helped give 119 cats a fighting chance. The brigade fast-tracks new volunteers through training to deal with a cat population that will soon reach crisis levels. Most volunteers leave the orientation with their foster kitty in tow! People wishing to join must fill out a foster application form. Volunteers who meet program requirements will be contacted for a quick phone interview. Organizers then do a mandatory criminal records check. Those selected must attend a foster orientation session

  • Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Volunteers with pets must show proof of spay or neuter and current vaccinations.
  • Volunteers must have a separate room to isolate a foster animal.
  • Volunteer must have time to care for foster animals.
  • Volunteers must have access to a vehicle.
  • Volunteers must abide by the foster agreement signed upon joining the program.
  • All Foster Volunteers must attend a general and foster orientation.
  • Foster Volunteers cannot adopt their foster animals.

The OHS relies on the dedication of foster volunteers to aid in the recovery of animals who may not be ready for adoption due to medical or behavioural reasons. Foster volunteers temporarily care for animals in their home until the animals are ready to be adopted. The goal of the Foster Program is to provide the animals in our care with an opportunity for a happy and healthy future.

The Ottawa Humane Society provides food and litter to foster volunteers. In addition, the OHS also supplies medications, examinations, and prescription diets.The OHS currently has 300 volunteers. Last year they placed 1,633 animals.

Log on to

A REVIEW OF THE FUR INDUSTRY IN CANADA: Alanna Devin was one of the speakers at this very interesting session about the plight of fur bearing animals. Over three million animals a year are killed in Canada each year for their fur, 85 percent on fur farms. Worldwide the number is 100 million, "Keep in mind," she noted, "that every animals is an individual with feelings and personalities."

In terms of federal legislation, Devine emphasized that there is none which governs the raising of animals on fur farms or the trapping of wild animals for fur. She also stated that in Canada it is actually legal to import and sell fur from dogs and cats. 

The labelling of real fur versus fake in Canada is not mandatory. “When I approached some people at the Montreal SPCA one day and advised that they were in fact wearing real animal fur they were surprised that there was no labelling to that effect," she explained.

Some of the animals killed for their fur include mink, beaver, racoons, muskrats, wolves, foxes, coyotes, squirrels, otters, lynx and chinchillas.

CAACQ: Johanne Tassé, the founder of the Kirkland-based Companion Animal Adoption Centres of Québec (caacQ), was in attendance. After spending 10 years as a volunteer in the marketing and adoption-promotion department for a dog adoption agency, Tassé realized that despite all the efforts made by similar organizations, the number of animals in shelters was consistently high. In 2008 she created the caacQ to resolve the problem of animal overpopulation, to implement cost-effective solutions for the well-being of companion animals in our communities. Her organization is working diligently so the killing of healthy animals will only be a sad memory in our collective minds.  “Adoption, sterilization and permanent identification is our message to the public and the authorities.” she says.

The goals of her organization are to encourage municipalities and the provincial government to establish and enforce stronger animal welfare laws; sterilization and micro chipping (educate the public on the importance of sterilization and permanent identification of companion pets); adoption option (promote and facilitate the adoption of homeless pets and responsible animal guardianship); and support members of the caacQ by improving current practices.

The CaacQ was created in order to have a direct impact on reducing the number of companion animals killed in the province of Quebec.

The next identification and adoption clinic organized by the CaacQ will take place on Saturday, June 6 at the Brossard Arena.  I have spoken to Johanne and in conjunction with Councillor Karen Zajdman in Hampstead, I hope to arrange such a day in Côte Saint-Luc in September.

Mark Hagen

HAGEN PET SUPPLIES:  I also met Mark Hagen, one of the owners and director of research for the West Island-based   Rolf C. Hagen Inc., Canada’s largest pet product manufacturer and distributor. Founded in 1955 and fueled by a love for animals big and small, Hagen is a Canadian-owned, independent, family-run business that has become a globally respected manufacturer and distributor of pet food and supplies. Committed to providing the highest quality nutritional pet foods, Hagen stands by its pledge of “No Bad Anything.” Hagen’s commitment to bettering the lives of all animals extends beyond food to include many long-standing relationships with organizations and charities that improves the lives of animals. These include donations of both food and money to underfunded animal shelters, animal hospitals and other organizations that care for animals. Its global head office is located in Baie-d’Urfe and was completed in June 2006.  The company has wholly owned subsidiaries in the United States, England, France, Germany and Malaysia (South East Asia). Joint ventures include Japan, Korea, Thailand and South Africa. There are also numerous strong partnership agreements in quite a few other countries such as Spain, Mexico, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and the Philippines to name just a few.  The company manufactures products related to pets such as aquariums, leashes, cages of all sorts, foods and has created a popular line of aquarium filtration.  

“Giving back to communities across Canada by supporting volunteer-based organizations is extremely important to us," says Mark. "We truly enjoy supporting the volunteer shelters, as they believe in the education and promotion of companion animal health and well-being, which is an important part of our company's very core."

Mark’s father Rolf C. Hagen founded the company.  He passed away in 2011. Mark is the company biologist and formulates and tests the pet food they manufacture.“Pets are not only the heart of our business,” he said, “they are the reason we are in business.”  They are continually investing in their research and development department inventing new and unique products for the pet industry.

In 1955, Rolf C. Hagen started by acquiring bird seeds from the Canadian prairies and exporting them back to Germany. His small export business eventually flourished and branched out into a solid, well-respected pet supplies business that today spans many continents. Soon after setting up his business in Montreal, his focus turned to the most significant import of his life: a beautiful young woman named Marianne Koch, whom he met in Hamburg and married in Montreal in 1959. His brothers Dieter and Horst subsequently joined the company, both of whom brought new energy and innovation to the company, taking it to new heights of success. The trio formed the first generation of an internationally successful family-based company that is now managed by Mark and his brothers Tom, and Rolf Jr.

Mark Hagen notes that cat overpopulation is not just a local problem, it’s rampant across Canada. “Cat ownership comes with many responsibilities,” he says.  “It must be viewed as a lifelong family commitment and every effort should be made to ensure proper and humane care for all felines.”

“Companies such as Hagen can only do so much to help support rescue centres across Canada. I think government agencies, as well as vets, breeders, pet shops, and shelters should come together in every region to address and find solutions for controlling the cat population, thus relieving the burden on cat shelters. Where none exists, a central animal care facility funded by cat licensing could be a practical solution,” said Mark Hagen. “Some cities, such as Calgary, are being proactive and achieving success. Their cat control program could serve as a good model to educate, promote, and support responsible cat ownership,”

Mark received a Master of Agriculture degree from the University of Guelph. He concentrated on nutrition and zoology for his Bachelor of Science degree, and attended a semester at the University of California, taking courses in cage bird medicine, nutrition and avian science. After five years of housing birds indoors in a converted warehouse, he designed the Hagen Avicultural Research Institute (HARI) facility in Rigaud, in 1989, which incorporated the latest techniques in environmental control.  Over the course of the past 26 years, HARI has gained a worldwide reputation for its ongoing studies into captive breeding, maintenance and nutrition of companion birds. Current areas of study include disease control, pair bonding, nutrition, early parrot education, and the influence of temperature, humidity and light cycles on breeding.

A firm believer in sharing his knowledge and experiences, he has published dozens of papers relating to the work at HARI, including egg incubation, oil and nutrition, formulated diets, husbandry and sanitation disease control, cage design, ventilation, and pediatric care. Many of his papers have been presented at most of the avicultural conferences held in the USA, Canada and Australia.

To mark its 25th anniversary, Mark and his team at HARI opened a new division dedicated to the long-term study of the health of reptiles and small animals with a strong focus on exploring new alternatives for dealing with common health concerns that the veterinarian community sees with species found in captivity.

Mark has also been deeply involved in supporting the avian community, providing personal as well as Hagen funding to a variety of organizations, including The World Parrot Trust, Loro Parque Foundation, and Parrots International. He also coordinates Tropican food donations to parrot shelters around the world.

With conservation being one of his main passions, Mark travels widely around the world to directly experience birds in their natural habitat to ascertain ways of improving preservation. He has personally seen over 50 parrot species where they occur on most continents.

CREATING SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS AND AVOIDING PITFALLS: Travis Grant is from the Edmonton Humane Society. He joined the organization’s communications team in 2012, with a specialization in social media.  Seventy-one percent of all internet users are on Facebook. EHS has 54,000 friends.  Twitter, he noted, accounts for 23 percent of all internet users and this is the audience you want for crowd funding (fundraising online).  Twitter has also been used to find lost pets in Edmonton. Instagram can also be a useful tool while Google + is a popular option. YouTube is the biggest investment of your time. In Edmonton it has been very successful and they even do  weekly podcast with Shaw Media. Pinterest, accounting for -28 percent of all internet users, can be useful. When it comes to social media, Grant said to make your goals specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.   Taking an actual inventory of your social media presence is a good idea and determine  the chain of command in terms of who will  handle facebook, twitter, instagram, Google +, YouTube etc.  These tasks need to be assigned. It is then time to decide what you want to use each social media presence for.

It is not a bad idea to actually create a  daily content calendar by social media engine and lisgt the time, topic, post and link.   Social media is a party, he said, so make it fun and engaging and give the online audience material they want.

CONFERENCE RECAP: I met with Alanna Devine and Johanne Tassé after the conference to get their take on things. "It is exciting to see so many people here from grassroots organizations," said Devine. "I have to say that the most exciting thing for me is that this is the first time there has been an entire focus on farm animal welfare. We talk a lot about dogs and cats, but we tend to forget about the animals that suffer the most by virtue of us eating them and what we use them for.”

Both Devine and Tassé expressed hope that this conference could be held in Montreal as early as next year, but that will not occur Cartwright told me. The CFHS looked into possible hotels to host the event and none were able to offer a suitable room rate nor guarantee the number of rooms needed for an event that attracts more than 300 delegates. So they will return to Toronto next year, site of the 2014 gathering, and keep Montreal on the radar for 2017.

BC's Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick did impress everyone on hand with his commitment to animal welfare and of course the donation of $5 million to the BC SPCA. So I asked Devine and Tassé for their assessment of Pierre Paradis, who has been Quebec's Minister of Agriculture for more than a year now.

"I do not really feel comfortable grading ministers," said Devine. "I can certainly tell you that Pierre Paradis has been the first Agriculture Minister since I have been at the SPCA who has made the commitment to improving animal welfare. He has stated that there will be revised provincial animal welfare legislation. He is also pushing for change to animals under the provincial code so this is certainly very encouraging.”

As for the BC government’s generous contribution to their local SPCA, Devine agreed it would be nice to see something similar transpire in Quebec. “Their relationship is not all that different from what we are trying to accomplish with the Minister of Agriculture in Quebec.  We are in close contact with the political attaché for Pierre Paradis and feel we have a vital role to play in animal welfare.

Tassé has this message for Paradis: “I’d like to say to him that he has to look at establishing standards for rescues, SPCAs and human societies. Right now there is no governing body that oversees these type of organizations.

Tassé was very enthusiastic about Canada Post`s new set of stamps for responsible pet guardianship. “I applaud their effort and that of the CFHS,” she said. “I think it is just a reminder that companion pets are part of our family and they deserve some visibility.”  



Support the SPCA's petition to halt rental units from not allowing pets

Did you know that every year, thousands of Quebecers are forced to part with their pet in order to move into a rental unit where animals are not allowed? 

Did you know that according to a 2012 statistic by the Régie du logement, only  three percent of landlords accept tenants with dogs? 


Quebec is considered to be the worst province for animal protection. It’s unthinkable to allow outdated, abusive clauses to force so many avoidable pet abandonments that cause undue stress and hardship for the families they tear apart. 

It needs to change! Like me, you can act at

As the city councillor responsible for animal protection, it disturbs me greatly that these measures exist. There are such buildings in Côte Saint-Luc. We have a similar problem with high rise condos, but in those cases we cannot intervene. I would like to reach out to those condo boards and sensitize them to the issue. So often I get calls from animal lovers eager to adopt, but held off because their board says no. I must ask the question- what harm does  a cat that stays indoors all the time really do? Attitudes like this need to change.

How did a rooster finds his way into Côte Saint-Luc?

When I spotted Côte Saint-Luc Public Security agents Erwin Luden and Tony Labattaglia in their patrol cars on Merrimac Road in District 2 Sunday morning looking like they were on a stakeout I asked what all of the commotion was about.

"Which jusy helped capture a rooster on the loose," said Luden.

"We had to isolate the rooster until the SPCA arrived," added Labattaglia.

Reuben the Rooster on the Bialik grounds.

It turns out that the rooster was about to become a de facto mascot for Bialik High School when classes resumed this week. Communications and Marketing offical Brittany Witt had even named him Reuben the Rooster. But the SPCA was able to capture him safely and according to our Public Security team bring him somewhere safe to live.

I reached Maureen Baron, the head of school for Bialik and JPPS. "Reuben  was there for about three weeks," she explained. "Our Buildings and Grounds man found two kids about 10 years old poking around the bushes of the Bialik soccer field. When asked what they were doing they replied that they were looking for their chicken. Our employee thought they were kidding and told them to go look for their chicken elsewhere. And then a few days later Reuben was spotted."

Reuben reportedly dining daily on apples that fell from a tree on the Bialik property.

Aubrey Zelman, out walking his dog Teddy, told me that it was his niece who spotted Reuben running around near the homes on Merrimac. She called Public Security. Roosters love to crow of course. But as the city councillor for District 2, I did not receive any complaints of "cock-a-doodle-doo."  Zelman heard the news via his son Michael, who direct messaged him from London, England.

Public Security Officer Labattaglia approaches the rooster.


I hope Reuben will enjoy a leisurely life.

This is not Reuben, but possibly his relative.



Animal Protection meeting results in first step towards Dog Owners Group

As the city councillor responsible for Animal Protection, I was pleased to hold my first forum on the subject at the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library. It was really the first time that a joint meeting had been held between cat and dog owners.

I was very pleased to welcome our newly elected Liberal Member of the National Assembly for D’Arcy McGee David Birnbaum, who succeeded Lawrence Bergman. David has been named a Parliamentary Secretary to Premier Philippe Couillard. We are thrilled to once again have a local MNA who is part of the government in power.


Councillor Mike Cohen, David Birnbaum, Shelley Schecter and Bram Eisenthal.

Lawrence Bergman was  a strong supporter of the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee (CSLCC). David told us that he has always been an animal lover, having grown up with pets in his household. He was very pleased to learn about our activities. We asked if he could speak with the new Minister of Agriculture, Pierre Paradis, who has responsibility for Animal Welfare. While we will sit down with David in the near future to brief him on our goals and objectives, we would very much appreciate meeting Mr. Paradis as well.

I have known David for a long time. We are lucky to have him as our new provincial representative.

A number of members of our CSLCC were on hand for the meeting, our two leaders Shelley Schecter and Diane Mendel Liebling. It has been almost four years since I called a meeting at City Hall to talk about what we could do to address the homeless cats situation in our community. Well more than 100 people turned out that evening and the rest is history. We have a small, but devoted, group of volunteers who handle Trap, Neuter, Release and Adoption, community relations, education, fundraising and other matters that come up.  Overall we have already saved the lives of hundreds of beautiful cats. The first ever cat licensing bylaw has been passed and we have many more projects at hand.

I was pleased with the turnout for our Forum, particularly among dog owners. There was a clear interest among those on hand to try and launch a Côte Saint-Luc Dog Owners Association. I would indeed support such an initiative, with these individuals serving as the perfect advisory group for my portfolio.

Since being appointed as the councillor responsible for Animal Protection last January, I have already met and spoken with countless dog owners. I will soon be announcing an exciting new partnership with a local pet food store.

Right now we have one dog run in Côte Saint-Luc, on Mackle Road near Caldwell. The city has already received a petition to see a new dog run built at Richard Schwartz Park, located on Westluke and Côte Saint-Luc Road near Meadowbrook Golf Course.  We are studying this request seriously to determine whether we can find a suitable section of land at that park or anywhere in the vicinity to suit that purpose. Dog owners near Decarie Square have a similar request.

It was clear from everyone on hand that we need to promote responsible dog ownership. That means keeping your canine on a leash and most importantly picking up after he or she. Never leave the house without a plastic bag to dispose of the dog’s dirty business. We are working towards a project which would have more bag dispensers available, with a trash can at the same location.

One lady told the story of someone in her building who refused to pick up after her dog. “I warned her that if she did not do so, I would put it in a bag and leave it on her doorstep,” she said. “Well right in front of me she let her dog do his business, with no cleanup at all. The next day she did find it on her doorstep.”

Steve Stein said he has been disgusted by some of the actions of irresponsible dog owners. “I have never seen such neglect,” he said. “My 16 year old son finally saw enough and he has taken to cleaning up the mess himself as part of his community service at school.”

Shelley Schecter said that the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough in Monteal now has a bylaw which requires dog owners to carry  a bag with them or else they risk a fine.

Bram Eisenthal, the publisher of Precious Pets newspaper, announced a new partnership with the CSLCC. We will be co-sponsoring some of his Grief Counselling meetings for people whose beloved pets have died. He has done a few sessions already on the West Island. They have been very therapeutic for those in attendance. I have personally lost three cats in my lifetime. Only a pet owner can understand what this is like. Absolutely devastating! Bram is giving people a chance to share their feelings with others who have gone through the same thing. A future meeting will take place in CSL.

I look forward to reporting upon developments on the formation of a Dog Owners Association. Louise Chenevert, who has started such a group in Montreal West, was on hand at our meeting and provide some good background on the subject.

First ever program on cats for kids at CSL Library a success

When I assumed the portfolios of Library and Culture and Animal Protection  last January on Côte Saint-Luc City Council, I knew there was  a way to marry the two. For starters, our Director of Library Services Janine West is an animal lover and so are many of her staff. This includes  Manager of Children’s Services  Valerie Medzalabanleth  and Children’s Outreach and School Services Coordinator Bronwen Cathey from the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library.

I was  very excited to be part of a new program they launched on  May 5 aimed at  raising awareness with young Côte Saint-Lucers about cats. Also implicated in the initiative are members of the library’s Teen Advisory Group.

With kids
Myself, Bronwen and Valerie holding books on cats with some of the kids.


More than 20 adorable children, aged two to  seven, came to the library with their parents  for a cat-themed storytime, interspersed with interesting cat facts (including cat health and safety information), given by  Valerie and Bronwen. This was followed by a cat craft and ended with the children decorating and signing a pledge to be kind to cats.  I told the kids about our Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee, asked which one of them owned a cat at home (several hands went up) and how many wanted to adopt (several hands went up).

See my small video:


“By having a storytime activity, we combine the library’s mission with the CSLCC’s mission, hopefully ensuring that the future cat owners of Côte Saint-Luc will be responsible and caring friends to felines,” says Bronwen.

Valerie reads.

Valerie read three books about cats and  the kids were glued to her every word. Bronwen asked a question. “What is the biggest cat in the world?” Several youngsters shouted out “a tiger.” They were correct, as in a Siberian tiger.

There were photos of cats taped to the walls on both sides of the room. The kids had to pick a type of cat out of  a hat and then go find it on the wall. They liked this.Browwen even sang a song about animals.

A little girl shows off her artwork.

Bravo to Valerie and  Bronwen for taking such a fabulous initiative. We will be discussing a future such event on dogs and more on cats.