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 It’s unthinkable to allow outdated, abusive clauses to force so many avoidable pet abandonments that cause undue stress and hardship for the families they tear apart.
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.
A huge word of thanks to Eric Goldapple, a member of the Volunteer Citizens on Patrol (VCOP). He has agreed to be the official liaison between the VCOPs and the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee, something I have been trying to establish for some time now.
Eric Goldapple makes his points.
With support from Councillor Glenn J. Nashen and Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson, I believe we are moving in a positive direction. The VCOPs patrol the streets of Côte Saint-Luc regularly, so it makes perfect sense for them to be our eyes and ears.
Eric and his wife Joan were cat owners. “I personally adopted two cats, although I am highly allergic, on two different occasions when I noticed them wandering around in my backyard,” says Eric. “One died after six months as he had a heart murmur and the other lived for five years as he had Feline immunodeficiency virus or FIV. I knew that both must have been abandoned as they had been fixed. They made great pets.”
At a VCOPs meeting, Eric asked his fellow patrollers to begin looking out for strays, , kittens, as well as domestic cats that may have been abandoned and become homeless. “I mentioned how important it was to keep the feral cat population under control and emphasized the need to rescue kittens as well as domesticated cats if they can be identified as such,” he said.
Here is a press release we issued on the two year anniversary of Côte Saint-Luc requiring owners of outdoor cats to purchase licenses.
Owners of outdoor cats are required to buy a licence for their cat, which includes a tag worn around the neck that can be used to help reunite lost cats to their owners.
“I implore cat owners to license their outdoor cats,” said Councillor Mike Cohen, who is responsible for the animal protection portfolio. “We have had some recent success stories about outdoor cats who got lost but were found and reunited with their owners thanks to the tags.”
In late August, Lydia Ghazal, a member of the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee (CSLCC), trapped a cat that had been hanging around her house for some time. The cat was terrified, starving but had a collar and tag around its neck. Diane Liebling, who oversees the CSLCC’s fostering program, took the cat in while Shelley Schecter from Educhat spoke with the city who was able to provide the contact information of the cat owner and they were reunited.
A few days later, the CSLCC was alerted that someone’s Siamese cat had left the home and not returned. Because the owner had purchased a license, it was easier for the CSLCC to assist in the search. Fortunately, the cat came back on its own.
“Personally, I have always had concerns about people who have outdoor cats,” Councillor Cohen said. “I have seen the pain and anguish experienced by some of my own neighbours, whose cats went out at night and never returned. The fact is, if you do insist upon having an outdoor cat then please purchase a license and make sure they are micro chipped by the local veterinarian. It is a small price to pay to significantly increase the odds if your cat goes missing.”
Outdoor cats in the City of Côte Saint-Luc need a cat licence following By-law 2394 that came into effect on November 1, 2012. Owners of outdoor cats must have them registered at City Hall (5801 Cavendish Blvd.) and obtain a cat identification tag, provide relevant information required to process the registration of the cat, and produce a certificate from their veterinarian stipulating that the cat has been spayed or neutered, provided the cat is six months or older.
The annual registration fee is $10 for an outdoor cat that is spayed or neutered and that bears a microchip or a tattoo, $15 for an outdoor cat that is spayed or neutered, but does not bear a microchip or tattoo, and $20 for an outdoor cat that is not spayed or neutered as a result of a medical exemption. The latter alludes to a feline 10 calendar years or older or one that has a medical exemption from the veterinarian attesting to the fact that it cannot be spayed or neutered. Fines will be issued to cat owners not complying with the by-law. They range from a minimum of $40 to a maximum of $1,200.
I was proud to steer the ship once again for the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee's (CSLCC) third summer fundraising concert , held on Tuesday, August 26 at the former Wagar High School.The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra were outstanding. Ditto for soprano Brigitte O' Halleran and singer Alexandra Cohen, who doubled as emcee. Thanks to Councillor Sam Goldbloom for serving as co-chair with me, to event coordinator Alvin Fishman for his tireless work, Communications and Public Affairs Manager Regine Banon for taking care of publicity needs and a cast of many more.
Joseph Milo and his orchestra take a bow. (Rami Negev photo)
We had a crowd of more than 350 people on hand. Funds raised went towards our CSLCC Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program and our partner organization Educhat, run by the extraordinary Shelley Schecter.
The Music We Love: Best of the Classics – the Cat’s Meow was the theme. We began with a tribute to the late Mayor Bernard Lang, who was a member of our committee and a true cat lover. His wife Miriam, son David and grandson Dylan accepted our special certificate of merit. Miriam confided to me that her family continues to feed homeless cats. Mayor Anthony Housefather, whom along with members of council has been very supportive of our group, gave words of welcome.
Sam Goldbloom, Anthony Housefather, Dylan Lang, Miriam Lang, David Lang and Mike Cohen. (Rami Negev photo)
Our newly elected Liberal MNA for D'Arcy McGee David Birnbaum was unable to attend,but he did send a nice message which Councillor Goldbloom read. "As member of the National Assembly, I am proud to support this event," he stated. "I’ve been pleased to discuss Côte Saint-Luc’s visionary approach to animal welfare with my colleague Pierre Paradis, Ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation, with a view to having other municipalities follow your fine example. I expect that cats across Côte Saint-Luc will be proudly purring along to the beautiful music you are about to hear!"
Mr. Birnbaum has informed us that a $500 donation from his office will be directed towards the CSLCC, a tradition started by his predecessor Lawrence Bergman. Via District 2 resident Howard Liebman, we also received encouraging words from Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who tabled animal protection motions in the House of Commons recently.
Lily Percs and a nice delegation from her Women's Group (Chomedy Branch) of Stamp out Violence attended, with transportation provided by Preferance Motor Coach.
Mike Cohen, Sam Goldbloom, Diane Liebling and Shelley Schecter. (Rami Negev photo)
Our most worthy honouree this year was Diane Liebling, one of the key players in the CSLCC. She has virtually given up the use of her own family garage - her family members park outdoors even on frigid winter days– so that space can be made available for homeless cats. Diane fosters these cats; in many cases she has fallen so deeply in love that she has adopted. Shelley Shecter often says : “If only we could clone Diane.” Diane Liebling has saved the lives of countless cats in CSL. She is a model for all of us. We presented her with a certificate and a nice gift donated by Norm Zimmerman of Steve's Music Store.
There are many feral cats in the community. The CSLCC’s team of volunteers sets out to trap as many as possible, have them sterilized and then adopted or returned to the spot where they were originally found. The committee has also rescued a number of kittens and found homes for them. The city’s first ever cat licensing bylaw was adopted last year and we have already seen some success from it.
The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (MWSO) was founded in 2006 by conductor Milo and his wife Lucy Ravinsky. This one of a kind orchestra was formed when it was discovered that a great pool of professional musicians, recently immigrated to Montreal, had no opportunity to make use of their valuable talent in their new home. The MWSO was created, not only to provide these new Canadians with the opportunity to engage in their main passion; making beautiful music in an orchestral setting, but to give them back the professional dignity they had enjoyed in their homelands and most especially, to share their wonderful talents with the music lovers of Montreal. They are a treasure and we remain lucky to have them.
Below is a video of the entire evening, done by CSL Director of Public Affairs, Communications and IT Darryl Levine:
Thanks to all of our committee members, some of whom baked goods for an intermission fundraising sale and to the staff at the Marymount Adult Education Centre. Principal Jacques Monfette, educational advisor Hipolito Corral and caretakers Michel Leblanc and Brenda Pion. Michel really performed above and beyond the call of duty, serving as our de facto sound advisor.
From this evening we did get some new committee members. We also hope some folks heard our message and will consider adopting a cat. Diane has a few beauties looking for good homes right now.
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.
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.
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 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.
On Monday, May 5 (7 p.m.) I will host the City of Côte Saint-Luc's first ever Animal Protection Forum in the multi-purpose room of the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library.
Since Mayor Anthony Housefather handed me an actual portfolio dealing with Animal Protection in January, I have been working hard on the dossier. I had already been acting as the formal liaison on council to the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee, an all volunteer group which rescues homeless cats and tries to find homes for them.
Many dog owners have approached me these last few months, so I felt there should be a forum for them in public to discuss important issues. Therefore on Monday it will literally be raining "cats and dogs." Members of the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee will be on hand to share how we have proceeded over the last few years and what our immediate objectives are. Shelley Schecter, the heart and sole of our committee and head of Educhat, will speak. She is also a dog owner. Bram Eisenthal, the publisher of the very unique Precious Pets Newspaper, will on hand. He recently launched pet grieving sessions. Only a pet owner can understand how devastated you can be when your cherished dog or cat dies. Newly elected D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum has accepted my invitation to attend. Now that the Liberals are back in power, we can share with David important animal welfare issues he can bring to Pierre Paradis, who as Minister of Agriculture, oversee the animal portfolios.
Monday's sessions will be an opportunity to share ideas. The topic of dog runs will no doubt come up, as will responsible pet ownership (i.e. picking up after your pet), licenses, adoption opportunities and other issues.
As part of my expanded Animal Protection portfolio on Côte Saint-Luc City Council I met with Alanna Devine, the director of Animal Advocacy for the Montreal SPCA.
Let me say from the start how fortunate animal lovers are to have someone such as Alanna in office. I have worked with her since the start of our Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee more than three years ago and she has been extremely helpful. A lawyer by education, she handles media relations, public outreach, government relations and any complaints surrounding cruelty to animals.
Alanna was very pleased to learn that Mayor Anthony Housefather had created a specific portfolio dealing with Animal Protection. I will work with her to try and encourage other municipalities in the province, or at least the island of Montreal, to do the same thing. If we are successful, I would like to host a Municipal Animal Protection Summit at our City Hall.
One of the issues Alanna wants to resolve with the City of Montreal is legislation to prohibit horse-drawn carriages. That is not something which really touches upon Côte Saint-Luc, but if we can assemble a suburban coalition of Animal Protection councillors we can support her. New York's new Mayor, Bill de Blasio, wants to remove horse-drawn carriages from the city. In The Verge Online, he called them "inhumane" and "not appropriate for the year 2014." A petition signed by more than 4,500 people called for the horses to be replaced by electric replicas of vintage cars, something de Blasio called "a cleaner, safer, wiser, more humane alternative that will be very appealing to tourists.
Kiwi, Mallory Moreau, Alanna Devine and myself.
Pet stores are also on Alanna’s agenda. Toronto and Richmond (B.C) have passed legislation banning the sale of dogs and cats from pet stores. The Montreal SPCA would like municipalities to restrict pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits that only come from shelters, humane societies and certified breeders.They also must be sterilized. The borough of Verdun has already done so. At the present time we have only one pet store in CSL and that is Aqua Tropicale at Decarie Square. While this store generally sells fish, turtles and birds, I have seen cats in cages there. Management promised me that these were homeless cats and my research indicated this was correct. If we can take some of the homeless cats we rescue and find them good homes via a pet store I am okay with that.
We also spoke about urban wildlife and a question which comes my way often: how to get rid of animals like raccoons and skunks from one’s property. She cited companies like Skedaddle Wildlife, which can remove these animals humanely.
The poisoning of animals remains a problem in society and this something that I have very sadly been witness to with cats in our community. It is something the SPCA wants to take on more aggressively and I am in their corner.
When I left the building I visited some of the dogs and cats available for adoption (there was even a pig). Staffer Mallory Moreau introduced me to Kiwi, a German Shepherd that was rescued from a puppy mill. Someone who works at the SPCA fell in love and adopted him.
The City of Côte Saint-Luc, like all municipalities, has a contract with the SPCA. At our February 10, 2014 council meeting we signed a new agreement for 2014.
At a City Council meeting on January 20, 2013 Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather unveiled the portfolios he and members of city council will oversee for the present mandate, which began last November.
Mayor Housfather will retain responsibility for the Agglomeration Council, Legal Affairs, Purchasing, Human Resources, Inter-governmental Affairs and take on Inter-cultural and Inter-community Relations.
I will assume responsibility for Library and Culture while retaining Sponsorship and expanding my role from the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee to Animal Protection.
Naturally, I am very excited to move forward with my new portfolios.
Our Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library is a true jewel within this province and I would go as far as saying our country. Chief Librarian Janine West and her staff contine to do a magnificent job. Our Library is a lot more than books: We are DVDs and videos, concerts, lectures, musical performances, an art gallery and a Library Express at our Aquatic and Community Centre.I have met with Janine and we have many new objectives to explore over the next four years so stay tuned.
I wish to thank the Mayor for introducing the Animal Protection portfolio. For the past three plus years I have overseen the birth and the subsequent day to day activities of an all Volunteer Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee. However, I also end up getting calls about dogs, raccoons, skunks, squirrels and pet stores. I do not know of any community that has such a portfolio. In fact, I have suggested on a few occasions that our provincial government create such a Ministry. That has not happened. Once again, Côte Saint-Luc is ahead of the game.
Meanwhile, I am pleased to retain the Sponsorship portfolio. We have come forth with a number of new initiatives and I look forward to working with the mayor, each councillor and our senior staff to see where we go next.
Moving on to my colleagues.
Councillor Dida Berku will assume responsibility for Public Works and Railway Relations, co-chair Environmental issues with Erdelyi and retain responsibility for the Cavendish Boulevard extension.
Councillor Glenn J. Nashen will assume responsibility for Communications and Information Technology (my previous portfolio). He will retain Emergency Preparedness and vCOP (Volunteer Citizens on Patrol).
Councillor Sam Goldbloom will assume responsibility for Public Security, Dispatch and EMS .
Councillor Allan J. Levine will retainresponsibility for Seniors, the Legion and Tennis while adding Urban Agriculture and Hockey.
Councillor Mitchell Brownstein will continue to oversee Parks and Recreation.
Councillor Ruth Kovac will continue to oversee Urban Development (Engineering and Urban Planning).
“I think that all members of council are excited about the challenges they are taking on or retaining,” said Mayor Housefather. “I believe that all members of council agree that the portfolio system I introduced in 2005, when first elected as Mayor, should continue as it has given councillors heightened responsibility and ensured a specific member of council was accountable for each activity within the city in addition to the council as a whole being accountable.”