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There are many advantages of having a pet around, as a companion, but welcoming a pet into your home is no small move, and quite the contrary.

Before getting a pet, you should:

  • Make sure you have enough time to take care of it and choose a breed that suits your lifestyle and your place of residence.
  • Financially prepare for the costs related to taking care of your pet: food, accessories, veterinary care, grooming, pet-sitting, insurance, etc.
  • Find out the life expectancy for that animal.
  • Make sure your lease or declaration of co-ownership allows pets.

Like many big cities, Montréal has to deal with the problem of overpopulation of unwanted animals, mainly caused by too many that are born and a lot of owners abandoning their pets.

Several measures have been implemented to limit overpopulation, namely the obligation for guardians to spay or neuter dogs, cats and rabbits, and to have a microchip implanted in their dogs and cats as of January 1, 2020. As well, pet shops will be required to only sell pets from pet shelters as of July 1, 2019.

Finally, numerous pet shelters and adoption agencies welcome animals of all ages and sizes who want nothing more than to find a home where they will be treated well.

When you adopt a pet from a shelter or agency:

  • You help an animal in need, while gaining a devoted companion.
  • You get a pet that has been given an assessment, care and vaccinations, and was spayed or neutered and microchipped, as of January 1, 2020.
  • You give a second chance to an animal who may otherwise be euthanized.

Adopting a pet is a commitment that must be carefully considered depending on your family situation, your lifestyle, your place of residence, your free time and your financial means. The decision to adopt a pet should take all members of your family into consideration.

Through their commendable aim of making the best matches, most shelters and adoption agencies assess each animal’s behaviour and have a pre-selection process for future pet owners, who are asked to provide certain information as well as personal references.


A microchip is a capsule the size of a grain of rice with a computer chip that contains a unique numeric code that identifies the pet. The microchip can be implanted in veterinary clinics and is injected underneath the pet’s skin, like a vaccine.

A microchip is a permanent method of identification because it remains in place throughout the pet’s life, does not wear off over the years and cannot be lost.

When stray pet arrives at a shelter, a reader is used to detect whether the pethas a microchip.

If the pet has a microchip, the name and contact information of his or her guardian can be found in the database.

Spaying or neuterering your pet

Spaying/neutering cats and dogs is strongly recommended by all professionals in the fields of veterinary health and animal protection. Male cats and dogs are neutered female cats and dogs are spayed.

Spaying/neutering is a surgical procedure performed by a veterinarian under general anaesthesia. Neutering consists of removing the male pet’s testicles. Spaying involves removing the female cat’s reproductive organs and can be done in different ways. After being spayed or neutered, pets can no longer reproduce.

Why should I spay or neuter my pet?

There are a number of advantages to spaying or neutering your pet:

  1. It prevents a number of health problems (tumours, infections).
  2. It prevents undesirable behaviour for both the guardian and neighbours:
    • It reduces pets’ tendency to escape or wander during breeding times of year.
    • It reduces the frequency of urine marking significantly.
    • It stops female pets from going into heat – female dogs stop bleeding, and female cats stop meowing constantly and being agitated.
  3. It helps control the population by limiting unwanted litters. Remember that one cat gives birth to five to six kittens and a litter of puppies may have as many as 12. Females breed several times a year. Spaying/neutering significantly reduces the number of orphaned puppies and kittens that are frequently euthanized when no one offers them a home.

Spay/neuter program for low-income households

Thanks to a special program that will be rolled out starting in September 2018, Montrealers living in low-income households will be entitled to have their pet spayed or neutered free of charge. The program aims to support pet owners who do not have the means to have their pet spayed or neutered by a veterinarian. Spaying or neutering these species will be mandatory as of January 1, 2020, under the by-law.

Under this program, spay/neuter services will be provided by the Montréal SPCA:

Before you give your pet away

Giving away a pet is no trivial matter. Pet owners may be prompted to consider such a solution for personal reasons or because of the pet’s behaviour.

Giving away a pet because you’re unhappy with its behaviour is not the best solution. Most behaviour problems can be solved. A dog owner mustn't hesitate to consult a veterinarian, who will be able to check whether the problem is a medical one. A veterinarian can also make appropriate recommendations and, if need be, refer you to a dog trainer.

The role of a dog trainer is to suggest ways and means of helping dog owners restore a healthy relationship with their pets. Although it is more common to hear about dog training, cats may also show signs of behaviour disorders, which well-informed advice from cat behaviour specialists can help owners resolve.

Before making a final decision that may well be regretted, pet owners should try to solve the problem they are having. Then, if there is no other option, they can find a new home for their pet or bring it to a local shelter or to an adoption agency.

Never abandon a pet in nature. In addition to putting the pet in great danger, such an action also disrupts the fragile balance of ecosystems.