From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1993:

MONTREAL, Quebec –– Embattled Canadian
SPCA president Joan Clark has pledged to resign at the
organization’s next annual meeting, to be held in June, but
observers aren’t betting heavily that Clark will be replaced,
or even that the CSPCA will remain open.
Founded in 1869, the CSPCA is Canada’s oldest
humane organization, but has rarely exercised national lead-
ership during more than a decade of internal turmoil marked
by a declining donor base, and has no staff or programs out-
side the province of Quebec. Although more than 80% of
the Quebec population is French-speaking, the CSPCA
directors and senior staff are primarily English-speaking,
contributing to a image of isolation from the community that
the organization has done little about during a series of pro-
tracted power struggles.

Now, more than 120 years after the founders
declared their intent to seek humane legislation, the Quebec
government has just begun the process of adopting the
province’s first law forbidding cruelty to animals, to replace
weak and antiquated provisions of the federal criminal
code––but the CSPCA probably won’t be a major player in
the debate because it is on the verge of bankruptcy, an esti-
mated $1 million in debt according to board members who
spoke with ANIMAL PEOPLE and CFCF/CTV television
news. At least 11 members of the 27-member board have
resigned to avoid financial liability. Over the past three
years many well-regarded staffers have quit or been fired,
including former coordinating director Cynthia Drummond,
investigators Robert DuMarsh, Louis McCann, and Marcel
Duquette, wildlife rehabilitators Marc Andre Fortin and
Harriet Schleiffer, and humane educator Lynn Gordon. At
deadline the CSPCA reportedly had no shelter manager, no
chief accountant, no fulltime executive director, and no
chief inspector. The CSPCA had spent an estimated
$200,000 on severances, and had been forced to pay new
employees more, in most instances, than the people they
Montreal media reports may, ironically, have
delayed reorganization by stimulating donations from peo-
ple concerned about the quality of care provided to the
60,000 to 70,000 animals a year who arrive at the CSPCA
shelter, which holds the pound contract for the Montreal
Urban Community.
Marin (California) Humane Society executive
director Diane Allevato and management consultant
Dennen Reilley, of Applied Research Associates, agreed in
recent investigative reports commissioned by the CSCPA
board that the immediate needs of the organization are, in
Allevato’s words, “the hiring of a capable animal care
administrator, and the training of the board, management,
and staff to do their respective jobs.” Reilley’s unusually
blunt report criticized the board for meddling in manage-
ment instead of concentrating upon fundraising and policy
matters; for failing to accommodate philosophical differ-
ences in a democratic fashion; and for allowing members to
pay themselves for work done on behalf of the CSPCA,
raising potential conflicts of interest. But Reilley saved his
strongest words for Clark. “It is not that your current presi-
dent does not deeply care about animals,” he wrote. “It is
not that she has served for 17 years…It is that she is manipu-
lative, does not respect her current board members, does
not value diversity, does not engage in reciprocity, either
does not understand or respect the difference between gov-
ernance and management, does not provide effective lead-
ership, and has in two terms as president and in the inter-
vening years allowed if not caused the organization to reach
the critical state” it is now in.
Among other bizarre instances of board meddling,
staff were obliged to euthanize a highly endangered golden
python they had spent six weeks rehabilitating, because a
board member objected to feeding the python freshly eutha-
nized mice and hamsters (who were received as abandoned
former pets). The board subsequently adopted a policy
requiring that wildlife could be fed tinned food only. This
effectively precluded rehabilitating wild carnivores.
“As a vegan for 10 years,” said Schleiffer, “I
know what their point was, but wild animals have to know
what food is in the wild.”
Former staffers move on
The disintegration of the CSPCA has fortunately
strengthened humane activity in the Montreal area, as for-
mer staffers have gone on to find new venues. Schleiffer,
after leaving the CSPCA, stepped up her activity with
Urban Animal Advocates, a 10-year-old group also includ-
ing Drummond and longtime Montreal humane activist
Andre Malouf. Although UAA has no central facility,
Malouf told ANIMAL PEOPLE, more than 100 trained
volunteers assisted in rehabilitating 530 animals in 1991,
and more than 900 in 1992. Schleiffer handled 103 rac-
coons, while Drummond helped rehabilitate nearly 100
young rabbits.
Malouf himself is primarily involved in a separate
area of activity, “counseling tenants who have problems
with their landlords about keeping pets. We have very good
laws here in Montreal,” he explained, “but tenants often are
not assertive enough.”
McCann, meanwhile, works now for the Pet
Industry Joint Advisory Council–Canada, a group many
humane activists have long considered part of their opposi-
tion. Not so, says McCann, and former CSPCA colleagues
back him up. While still with the CSPCA, McCann drafted
a proposed captive wildlife act barring private ownership of
exotic cats, venomous snakes, and primates, with an
exemption for those already in private homes, who must be
identified with microchip implants. In addition, the vendors
of any exotic animals are required to provide
pamphlets on care and feeding to the buyers.
Zoos must meet annual permit requirements
for possession of exotic species, and must
account for the disposition of every animal.
The act has been enforced by the Quebec min-
istry of wildlife since August 4, 1992.
In his new capacity, McCann has
authored the official pamphlets covering eight
categories of birds and reptiles.
“We have a message for retailers,”
McCann told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “We’re
saying to them, ‘You’re not going to market
your stores by offering the weirdest animal
possible.’ We’re stressing follow-up and cus-
tomer satisfaction now.”
McCann is also setting up a certifica-
tion program for PIJAC–Canada member
stores. “It’s not going to be just self-regula-
tion,” he promises. “There will be inspec-
tions.” Standards already drawn up and
approved by the PIJAC–Canada board include
a pet warranty, “which commits the pet owner
to providing good care as well as the store to
selling healthy animals,” McCann says,
adding that member stores are enthusiastic.
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