Helping the Helpless in Quebec


Puppy mills are commercial breeding operations that put profits above animal welfare. Mother dogs are confined in barren enclosures and denied adequate food, water, veterinary care and socialization.

For the past five years, Quebec has ranked lowest of all Canadian provinces for its animal welfare legislation and received the dubious recognition as “best place in Canada to be an animal abuser.”

Quebec is known as the “puppy mill capital of Canada” with estimates of the number of mills ranging from hundreds to thousands. 


Here I am an animal advocate residing in the puppy mill capitol of Canada, most likely North America. Do I struggle?  I shed a lot of tears. Do I have the sense to persevere and make a difference even to one animal? I sure do.

Courtesy HSI Canada Sept 2013

Courtesy HSI Canada Sept 2013

Much of my rescue work revolves around the Montreal SPCA Emergency Shelter, better known as the Annexe.

It’s purpose is to “provide support to large groups of animals brought from puppy mill seizures and extreme hoarding situations, along with animals that have special needs (behavioral or medical), animals awaiting transfer to rescues or other shelters, and animals waiting for adoption when the main shelter no longer has space.”

This past September the Montreal SPCA together with Humane Society International Canada seized over 100 dogs from a commercial breeding facility outside of Montreal. With little notice staffs worked throughout the night getting ready for what we expected were petrified little souls that had lived in filth their whole lives. We were right.

Upon arrival via HSI transport vehicles, we moved these dogs through our reception as if they were checking into a hotel. They zipped by our front desk receiving their assigned location and into fresh smelling surroundings with blankets, beds, a bowl full of fresh water and a soft toy. Exhausted, terrified, sickly, pregnant, aged…. we established a place for them all.

A stench soon overtook our entire building. It’s a mix of their filth and fear. It’s the puppy mill smell we call it, and they lived in it for years.

My primary role is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Annexe but I am trained to work in several aspects of animal care and rescue. That evening I was a designated “runner. “ I’ve performed this task many times and it gives me a chance to acquaint myself with each animal.

It’s my dream job.

Once they were allowed to settle for a short time, I would quietly carry each one to a room filled with veterinarians, technicians, inspectors, volunteers and staff…. to be weighed, vitals taken, vaccines given. That night each little frightened face meant something to someone. They each became important.  For the first time in their lives.

jo mcarthur

photo by Jo McArthur

Once word got out through our network, these dogs were shown overwhelming love and comfort by tireless staff and volunteers beginning at 7.a.m. each day. People giving their heart and soul to cleaning cages and sneaking snuggles. Veterinarians treating rotting teeth and sick tummies. Groomers rid them of the dirt they were covered in. Every day a shipment arrived of blankets, beds, toys, food and more.  We laughed and cried, sometimes all at the same time. Team work at its finest.

And we fell in love. They came in with numbers, by mid week they all had names.

This amazing group of caretakers knew over 100 dog’s personalities and needs. Did Clove eat her breakfast? Did Ernest let you pick him up? Did anyone see those new babies? Each night we were anxious to hear of the daily progress so we formed a discussion group amongst ourselves

Days turned into weeks and September turned into December.

The owner did not give them up willingly therefore we waited on a day which would claim them as ours or return them to their hell. Many of us wanted to adopt but we could not. With animal welfare laws rare in Quebec we worried what the outcome would be. In most prior cases there had been enough evidence from inspectors the courts ultimately ruled in our favor but Quebec judgements are unpredictable.  Actual seizures or raids are so few and far between here. It takes a long time to get a warrant let alone a judgement.

Therefore we could do nothing except care for them until a court date was set. The very sick were treated of course but no spays or neuters are allowed in cases that have not been resolved.

Christmas came early and the judge ruled in our favor.



Females exhausted and sickly from giving birth too many times were now free to find someone to love them. There will be no more babies.

Males who were used solely to impregnate and then put back into dark cages for months on end will now run around back yards in the snow.

milo in the snow

Milo in the snow

We promised you a new life and we kept our word even though there were days we feared we may not fulfill it.

magnum smiling

Magnum smiling!

I have had the privilege to watch over these tiny paws for the past five months. Doing what I was born to do. Helping the helpless.

It’s a fact. Nothing is more forgiving than a dog.



I have shared some of the before and after photos, those lucky dogs who have already been adopted and have a couch to lie on or a car seat to ride in.

Most had a home for the holidays. Only 6 still remain with us today. I have included their photos as well. (Note they can only be adopted in the Montreal or surrounding area.)

Terry Price Kimmel


Looking for Love













On Jan. 22, 2014 – A manifesto was announced in La Presse that called for a reconsideration of animals’ legal status in the Civil Code of Quebec. The manifesto is signed by influential public figures from the media, the arts, and the sciences, and is supported by the Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Signatories include Julie Snyder, Anne-France Goldwater, and Georges Laraque. he manifesto is the result of the collaboration between food ethics author and blogger Élise Desaulniers, moral philosophy researcher Martin Gibert, and the Montreal SPCA.

“Currently, the Civil Code of Quebec considers animals moveable property, no different from a toaster or a chair, and thus assimilates the act of hurting or abusing an animal to the destruction of property” states Me Sophie Gaillard, lawyer and campaigns manager for the Montreal SPCA’s Animal Advocacy Department. “Not only is this concept morally questionable, but it also clashes with how the majority of Quebec citizens think about animals.”

The manifesto therefore demands that we grant animals a legal status that is distinct from that of inanimate objects, and that takes into account their capacity to feel pleasure and pain – to grant them, in short, the status of sentient being.

The public is asked to join Gilles Proulx, Nat Lauzon, and Daniel Weinstock by signing the manifesto online at

All views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, KANETIX