The Montreal SPCA hosted a free adoption day on Thanksgiving Monday as the shelter is overwhelmed with pets.

Bijou, a seven-year-old cat with gastrointestinal issues, is one of hundreds of animals that need a new home.

Bijou was in luck because hundreds of people were waiting their turn to find a furry friend, in a line that covered several blocks.

People lined up for hours, under the cold rain, hoping to save up to $550 in adoption fees.

Shannon Lalonde and her son went in hoping to adopt a pitbull they spotted online.

“I think waiving the adoption fees is really helpful with families right now, struggling to pay certain bills and groceries,” Lalonde said.

Higher costs are one of the main reasons why the SPCA has seen more pets being abandoned this year.

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The shelter is currently bursting at the seams and has a waiting list of more animals who need to get in.

“It’s crazy,” said Laurence Massé, the SPCA’s assistant director. “We thought that after the pandemic it would slow down a little, but because of inflation it went up.”

The Quebec Veterinary Association says those wanting to adopt an animal should budget $2,400 per year for a cat and between $2,700 and $3,400 for a dog. The cost for a rabbit is lower, estimated at $1,500 a year.

Besides food, costs include annual check-ups, anti-parasite treatments, grooming, toys and permits required in certain jurisdictions.

“Behind every surrender, there are economic reasons such as housing, vet fees, or behavioural issues,” Massé said.

The SPCA has microchipped, vaccinated and treated all available animals.

There are dogs, bunnies, guinea pigs and gerbils available.

People hoping to adopt a pet had to undergo an interview to find the right match. “It’s not because we waive the adoption fee that we waive the process,” Massé explained, adding that some families walked away with a surprise.

“Last week, there was a family coming in to adopt a dog and they had a discussion, realized it was too much time, too much energy, too much space, and they left with a turtle,” Massé said.

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The goal is to empty all the shelter’s cages containing about 100 cats, two dozen dogs, and as many bunnies. About 400 animals are also in foster homes.

The hope is all animals like Bijou the cat find a good family who loves them just the way they are.

“She has extra toes,” Sofia Kucher-Gomez was warned. But it was too late, it was love at first sight.

“I’m very happy,” said Kucher-Gomez as she carried Bijou out the door of the Montreal SPCA.


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