Pet detectives close down cat shelter

By Robert Frank

Quebec government officials and provincial police armed with a warrant swooped down on Laval’s Opération Félix cat shelter, Nov. 25.

They loaded 80 cats into waiting trucks which took them to a Montreal-region emergency animal shelter, Humane Society International (Canada) official Ewa Demanowicz, whose staff and volunteers assisted in transferring the pets, told The Suburban in an interview.

“For the safety of our staff and the animals, we don’t reveal where it is located,” she said. “It’s owned by the Quebec government.”

Opération Félix manager Janine Larose has vowed to contest the seizure.

In an internet posting on, Nov. 8, Larose deplored new Quebec rules that had come into force a day earlier, requiring all shelters to get an Agriculture Ministry permit.

“Would a solution be to go underground?” she asked “I strongly suggest to the rescues that operate from their own home to do so.”

“In my view, all this bureaucracy has nothing to do with the protection of cats, specially (sic) stray cats,” she concluded.

“We’ve seen infractions to animal welfare laws. Ill animals,” said Demanowicz. “That is the main aspect of this operation. These are sick animals not receiving proper veterinary care and the conditions they were kept in were unsanitary and inappropriate, failing to respect animal welfare standards. Sommeone had to intervene and remove them.”

She added that if the court rules against returning the cats to Opération Félix, “they will be put up for adoption in partnership with local Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals [shelters] and rescue and adoption organizations.”

Demanowicz is Humane Society Canada’s campaign manager for companion animals – the term that animal-rights use for pets. The Montreal-based non-profit organization employs eight staff and is supported by more than 300 volunteers in Canada.

“Anything cats or dogs falls under me,” she said. “Rescues, adoptions and advocacy.”

“In Canada and Quebec, our main activity is stopping puppy mills,” Demanowicz explained. “We work to improve laws that touch cats and dogs.”

Last year, Quebec proclaimed Bill 51, which considerably tightened the province’s existing animal protection laws, imposing new rules for the premises where animals are kept. It included specific provisions and preventative measures that apply to locales that house 20 or more cats or dogs, and added the requirement for a permit. It also stiffened the fines for those found guilty of violating the statute.

The law also now controls the methods that can be used to euthanize dogs and cats.

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