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Animal service centre is hoping to get off the ground

The Centre animalier du Haut-Saint-Laurent is in need of a home.

The group behind the animal care centre is in the process of restructuring and is relaunching its efforts to find a suitable location in the area.

The founding general assembly took place in December 2019 in response to a need within the community for a more local animal care centre. The start of the pandemic a few weeks later put an end to the initiative. “It is a big project. It is a good project,” said Karine Jacques, the president and founder of the centre, during the annual meeting for the organization on April 4. “People are telling us there is a need in the area,” she says, noting there are even more abandoned or stray animals now than before the public health crisis.

“We have few resources at the moment,” admitted Jacques, who says they spent the funds raised before the pandemic on several animals in need. The organization is hoping to start over but has come up against some real hurdles. The first is finding a suitable location within the Haut-Saint-Laurent. They have been looking, but so far have been unable to find a space that can accommodate the project.

A second and perhaps even higher barrier revolves around access to veterinary services. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, an animal centre must be affiliated with a veterinarian. “We have had difficulty finding a vet who wants to become involved,” said Jacques. “They don’t have time, and this is blocking the project from moving forward,” she admitted, while suggesting that animal refuges in rural areas often do not require a veterinarian to be present all the time.

The costs to establish the centre are also quite steep at an estimated $1 million (according to the website). “It is a lot of money, but there are ways to access funds through sponsorships,” said Jacques. There is also the possibility of providing animal control services to local municipalities, which currently rely on the services of a centre located in Beauharnois. “As a citizen, I would prefer to have a service closer to home. While there is no other alternative, they will continue to sign with other companies,” she says of the municipalities.

The organizers believe there are roughly 30,000 people who could benefit from the creation of the centre in the Haut-Saint-Laurent, as well as those in Saint-Stanislas-de-Kostka and Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague. In the meantime, those behind the centre will continue their search for a location, a veterinarian, and interested partners.

More information on the Centre Animalier du Haut-Saint-Laurent can be found online at: cahsl.ca.

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