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Homelessness and pets: a harsh reality

Today more than ever, pets are an important part of our lives, but the reality of these relationships can be difficult when the unexpected happens.

Homeless people who live with their pets are often rejected by shelters, so the totality of their time is spent with their faithful companion. The bond between them can therefore be very strong, stronger than one might think.

In Quebec, there are very limited resources to take care of their animals, and in some regions, none at all. Some organizations and foundations support them as best they can, but the demand is much higher than the resources available to them.

Personally, over the last few years, I have intervened on several occasions to care for and feed animals whose owners were living on the street or in an extremely precarious situation.

I always offer to provide them with the necessary care, because I see that their animal is sometimes the most precious thing they have (and I totally understand them).

However, in some cases, I feel that the welfare of the animal should come first, and that abandonment would prevent death, neglect and/or abuse.

Mission Mayday took in a 5-month-old puppy with a fractured and infected jaw in an extremely delicate situation this week, and I would like to go back and explain the situation.

Why won't we return him to his former owner?

We believe that putting this puppy back in the same place with the dog that attacked him twice would put him in danger because the risk of recurrence is high, and it would amplify his trauma following this accident.

In this case, the puppy's quality of life and general well-being were at stake for the long term. After such a bite from the other dog, the next one could be fatal. Food guarding can lead to very serious injuries, as you have seen.

We often say that an animal is for life, but sometimes you have to let it go to preserve its life. It is a sad reality, but whether we live in luxury or in a precarious situation, we are not always able to offer a safe environment for our animal. That certainly does not make you a bad person, but sometimes you have to let them go for their own safety.

Why was there mention of neglect?

According to animal welfare law, any dog or cat that is sick or injured must receive proper medical care. For example, when you get hit by a car and are seriously injured, you go to the hospital as an emergency. The same should be done for our pet.

Leaving your life partner to suffer for several hours, days, or weeks, could lead to a seizure by the competent authorities. And we believe that this is justified.

If Daiquiri would have seen a vet at our expense the day before, his condition would not have deteriorated overnight. Unfortunately, by the time he was abandoned, his condition had become very concerning.

Financial support vs. abandonment

We are always happy to help a person experiencing homelessness keep their pet when possible, which is why we had initially offered to pay for his exam before evaluating the options.

We wanted to have him examined the day before he was abandoned, but that didn't happen. We would then have been able to determine if the Zarabella Foundation was able to cover his care, or if a medical surrender would be proposed by our organization.

One thing was certain: this puppy needed to be seen urgently!

The next day, when we learned that Daiquiri was at the vet's, we decided to withdraw, seeing that our help was not needed, and that other animals needed our help.

As for the Zarabella Foundation, they cannot help financially when a private individual is making the medical decisions, which is quite normal for an organization. So, they also withdrew.

Then, a few hours later, we received a request for help from a partner hospital to save Daiquiri, who was dying because his owner had waited too long… He had to be hospitalized to give him a chance. And now we needed up to $8,000 to treat him.

We made decisions while trying to put aside our emotions, focusing on Daiquiri's well-being. We knew that many people would not appreciate us keeping him, but we are doing it for him, and we will do everything to give him the best care, and the best quality of life possible.

I will end this text by telling you that yes, we were heartbroken by his story, and that in the end we decided to help him because we simply could not stand idly by and do nothing.

- Mégane


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