The deadline is quickly approaching for dog and cat owners in Montreal and Laval to microchip and sterilize their animal companions, as the practices will become mandatory on Jan. 1, 2020, with a few exceptions.
The implantation of a microchip makes it possible to identify a lost animal and quickly find its owner. The device cannot be lost and accompanies pets all their lives, unlike medallions on a collar.
It is a capsule the size of a grain of rice that is inserted under the skin of the animal and contains a computer chip with a serial number associated with the owner’s contact details.
“Veterinarians have instant access to file data, thus avoiding overloading shelters and carrying out avoidable euthanasia,” the City of Montreal notes on its website.
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The microchip also helps end the great stress experienced by people who have lost their animal companions much more quickly, said Anita Kapuscinska, a spokesperson for the Montreal SPCA, in an interview with the Canadian Press.
The Association des médecins vétérinaires du Québec (AMVQ), the province’s association for veterinarians, said microchipping costs about $70 in a veterinary clinic. It is $45 at the Montreal SPCA, and the price is generally even lower when municipalities organize microchip clinics.
Through sterilization, the City of Montreal’s first goal is to control the number of stray animals and limit unwanted litters that can lead to overcrowding in shelters and euthanasia.
The operation, which is performed under general anesthesia by a veterinarian, prevents animals from reproducing. A pet can usually be taken home the same day or the next day.
The practice also has other benefits, including preventing tumours and infections and reducing the tendency to run away during the breeding season as well as excessive meowing in cats.
“Sterilization brings only advantages for cats and dogs in our society,” said Dr. Michel Pepin, a spokesperson for the AMVQ.
In Montreal, rabbits will also need to be sterilized.
The AMVQ estimates that sterilizing a cat should cost, on average, between $219 and $289. The bill is in the range of $328 to $367 for puppies.
The Montreal SPCA offers sterilization services at low cost for low-income pet owners but refuses to publicly disclose the prices.
Sterilization is not compulsory under certain conditions. This includes when the practice is contraindicated by a veterinarian, when a dog or cat is used for breeding or when a dog is under six months old.
The majority of the 1,000 dogs and 5,000 cats received by the Montreal SPCA are not sterilized or microchipped on arrival. The organization believes making these practices compulsory will greatly contribute to reducing the number of euthanized animals in the city.
The minimum fine for any owner who has not complied with the rule varies by municipality. It is $300 in Montreal and $100 in Laval.
Microchipping was first made mandatory in Laval on Jan. 1, 2019, but the city pushed back the deadline after having “heard the concerns of Laval residents,” who asked for more time to comply with the regulations.