Medical

Do you practise euthanasia?

Yes. Unfortunately, we have to use euthanasia. No animal care professionals like to practise euthanasia when it is not required due to reasons of animal health or welfare.

The SARS shelter does not refuse any pets from our partner municipalities (Boucherville, Longueuil, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), regardless of their behaviour or state of health. Consequently, we have to manage populations whose numbers can vary widely depending on the number of admissions, while simultaneously caring for animals in a variety of conditions, some of which are good candidates for adoption while others are dangerous or dying. These animals belong to the community.

The large numbers of pets taken in by the shelter is a problem of the society we live in. These pets and the issues surrounding them are the responsibility of the entire community. The thankless task of euthanizing these animals is a burden that falls to the shelter, but it is the lack of accountability of the community as a whole that leads to this unhappy fate.

On a more encouraging note, it’s worth noting that since Services Animaliers began operations on Montréal’s South Shore, the number of pets saved has climbed by 10% to 15% per year. Today, we do not euthanize any dogs that are suitable for adoption or able to be transferred to a partner organization.

How do you go about euthanizing an animal?

At every point in the process, from the time the decision is made to the moment the procedure is carried out, we take pains to treat every pet with the utmost respect, even when it is difficult to deal with. The decision to euthanize is made by a group of people, including members of the management team and other personnel responsible for adoptions, behavioural issues and the veterinary clinic, in an effort to ensure that everyone has a say and every option is considered.

When the joint decision is made to proceed with euthanasia, the animal is given a powerful sedative to ensure it doesn’t feel any pain or psychological stress. At that point, it is as if the animal were under anesthesia for surgery. Once it has been sedated, we double-check the animal’s admission date, legal status and, if it has no identification (a tag, collar with an address or microchip), the initial verification carried out when it was admitted. We then proceed with euthanasia by intravenous injection. Two determinations of death are made, at a specific interval of time. The animal is then wrapped and refrigerated until an animal incineration company can pick up the remains.

Where are the remains of euthanized animals taken?

All animals are handled with respect, even after their death. They are stored in a cold room until an animal incineration and cremation company can come to pick up the remains.

Why don’t you provide spaying/neutering services for all pets?

Québec’s veterinary clinics already offer high-quality sterilization services. Since these services are already available, it would be counterproductive for us to provide them for all animals.

Our role at SARS is to spay/neuter animals that do not have the good fortune to be seen in a veterinary clinic, either because they are strays or because their owners do not have the necessary financial resources. Our partner municipalities have made the societal choice to take care of their animals, which allows us to provide quality care.

What is a microchip?

The size of a grain of rice, a microchip is an electronic chip inserted under an animal’s skin between its shoulder blades. Every microchip has a unique identification number linked to a database that contains information on the animal and the owner’s contact information. The microchip is permanent; there is no risk that it can be lost or erased, unlike a tattoo or a plastic or metal tag.

The microchip can be read by a special device, making it quick and easy to obtain the contact information for the owner of a lost pet. When a pet is found and taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic, it is scanned for a microchip so that its owner can be contacted immediately.

Do you take care of sick pets?

The state of health of animals admitted to the shelter varies widely. As a result, the care provided is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Animals with no apparent health problems are given a range of preventive care to help preserve their health and protect them during this stressful time. Vaccinations, anti-parasitic drugs, high-quality food geared to their needs and a biologically safe environment are provided. In most cases, prevention and a stable environment help ensure their continued good health.

As soon as they are admitted, animals whose lives are not in imminent danger are given a battery of diagnostic tests, surgical and dental treatments and other medical treatments required by their condition. Our medical team provides all the necessary care to ensure these animals are comfortable and their problems are looked after. The problems encountered most often are parasitic infestations, a severe lack of dental care, ear infections, skin infections, infectious diseases with varying degrees of severity, metabolic or urinary disorders, anxiety disorders and traumas, to name just a few.

Thanks to its skilled team, high-quality facilities and partnerships with the region’s veterinarians, SARS is able to treat nearly the entire spectrum of health problems that can affect an animal.

But in addition to an individual animal’s health and condition when it arrives at the shelter, it is the community as a whole that determines which animals will be saved. Adopters and rescue groups tend not to accept animals with certain health problems. These animals are pushed aside because of problems that can sometimes be easily treated; after all, every animal is a living being whose health is sure, at one point or another, to be an issue. People reject a great many good animals because they do not want a living being that they see as “broken.” These rejections prevent the shelter from saving a number of animals.

In the case of animals with a more sombre prognosis at the time of their admission (for instance, an animal with a small chance of short-term survival), in particular as a result of severe trauma, chronic neglect or an untreated medical condition, the shelter’s veterinarians have to make a decision based on the animal’s welfare. Our team must choose between attempting intensive care and proceeding immediately with euthanasia, according to the animal’s best interests. For SARS, letting an animal die on its own is not an acceptable option.