Imagine running a no-kill cat shelter that houses 300 cats and being evicted on a technicality. Here’s the story from Montreal as printed in the Montreal Gazette:
They face being evicted – or possibly euthanized – within days, but the 300 cats at a shelter in Montreal North are blissfully unaware, a tribe of quirky characters running free in a room the size of a tennis court.
Surprisingly, since volunteers can care for the cats only two hours a day, there are no major odours or poop landmines on the secondfloor Humano Chats shelter on Paris Ave. near Industriel Blvd. The cat shelter has until Tuesday to get out because on March 2 the Montreal fire department deemed the building not up to fire code because it lacks enough fire escapes.
Since then, volunteers with Humano Chats have been allowed inside only between 10 a.m. and noon each day to feed the cats, clean the more than 50 litter boxes and administer medicine to those cats who need it.
“This cannot go on indefinitely,” shelter founder Monica Campo said Wednesday as she scrambled to get everything done in two hours and then rushed to look at places to rent to house the cats.
Campo said she hoped to find a new place this weekend and avoid the cats’ being sent to pounds where they could be put down for lack of space.
“They’re all ready for new homes,” Campo added, as the clan of felines scampered about. The group has the cats sterilized, vaccinated and treated for parasites before they are allowed to congregate in the main space. The volunteers end up donating much of the money for food and rent; kitty litter is donated.
But the endless supply of abandoned cats is the most vexing thing, she said.
“It’s the result of a bigger issue: lack of legislation, even if it is bylaws (to compel) pet shops and pet owners to sterilize animals.” There are also too few resources for groups that rescue abandoned animals, she said.
Campo, 60, said she moved in to the shelter’s current space in December 2008 but she had no lease and no permit from the borough to operate a shelter. The tenant she was subleasing from said he might expand his business to the second floor and the two agreed to give each other three months’ notice of any change. The borough told her she could get a permit only if she had a lease.
Alain Rouleau, head of the fire department’s fire prevention unit, said allowing volunteers in once a day can last “a few days, not weeks. Early next week we will want to see what is being done to rectify the situation.”
Hughes Chantal, director of administrative services with the borough of Montreal North, said he believed the shelter could delay moving until April 7. That is the date by which the building must be brought up to code. However Pelah, and the building’s owner, could insist the shelter move before that date, Chantal said.
“We will try to help them find another place,” Chantal said. “But all we can do is point out the zoning areas where they can look.” Montreal North currently has a designation for kennels, not cat shelters. Finding a building suitable for a kennel is much tougher, he admitted. Changing the bylaw could take months, he said.
“People should take responsibility for their animals. Abandoning them creates a problem for the community.”
For more information or to help Humano Chats, write to P.O. Box 362, Montreal, QC H4L 4V6 or email the group at humanochats@ hotmail.com