Me Anne-France Goldwater and Me Marie-Hélène Dubé, senior partners of the law firm Goldwater, Dubé, applaud the City of Longueuil and its Mayor, Sylvie Parent, for their prompt action in cancelling a planned deer slaughter in Michel-Chartrand Park on Montreal’s South Shore.
Earlier this month, the municipality announced it would kill 15 deer — half the population — in response to issues associated with overpopulation: the impact on the local ecosystem, danger to drivers, and the potential spread of Lyme disease. While these are legitimate concerns, outrage by citizens over the planned cull prompted Mayor Parent to reverse course.
Animal welfare: Our shared responsibility
Concerned citizens flooded our firm’s phone lines and social media channels over the past two weeks, as Quebeckers across the province were saddened and angered by the initial decision. Goldwater, Dubé is first and foremost a family law firm, but Me Goldwater is also renowned as a passionate defender of animal rights, fighting to protect those who cannot defend themselves.
To this end, in partnership with wildlife protection group Sauvetage Animal Rescue, Goldwater, Dubé approached the City of Longueuil with a plan to relocate the deer — at no cost to the city — while also providing free contraception for the remaining does.
Their proposal of a nonviolent, humane solution mirrors the interests of not just animal welfare activists, but an overwhelming number of Quebecers, about 39,000 of whom have as of this writing signed a change.org petition demanding the deer be relocated to a sanctuary or other safe environment.
Better animal control management
While we applaud the City of Longueuil’s ultimate decision, the initial mistake was not made in a vacuum and the problem is common across Quebec, as Me Goldwater explained in a recent interview with the Montreal Gazette:
“The real problem comes from the Government of Quebec. The government said there were two ways to get rid of your surplus deer: you either send hunters in to kill them — to which the city said, are you crazy? — or the second option, which was to trap them, kill them, then offer the meat to the poor… I think we can offer plenty to the poor without killing Bambi and his whole family.”
Despite this latest slide, the Quebec Government has made significant progress in recent years to improve protections for animals in the province. In 2015, it unanimously passed an animal welfare bill that more scientifically acknowledges that animals are sentient beings, that companion animals require human caregivers to meet their biological needs, and that allows for tougher penalties for abusers.
The relocation operation by the dedicated team at Sauvetage Animal Rescue is complicated, given that the deer are semi-domesticated, having become accustomed to the presence of humans, and having no natural predators. Sauvetage Animal Rescue has developed a plan to safely relocate them to a sanctuary.
“The approach is as logical as it is sensible: trap each deer individually — humanely — then administer medical care on-site: medication for ticks, which is a public health issue, deworming medication, blood tests and a complete health checkup,” Me Goldwater explained. “Once each deer is considered in good health and stable condition, which will take at least 48 hours to ascertain, that deer will be sedated again, under veterinary supervision, and will be transported to a sanctuary, where the deer will remain in quarantine for a sufficient period to ensure his or her continued good health before being released into the company of other animals in the new predator-free habitat. We have also offered to provide quarterly reports as to the continued good health of the relocated deer to the City of Longueuil and the Minister of Wildlife, Forests and Parks.”
We hope this initiative will inspire other municipalities facing challenges of overpopulation of local wildlife, and also groups of animal rights activists, to work together collaboratively to make use of these more sophisticated relocation plans that will save lives. We remind all Quebeckers that this initiative has been undertaken at no cost to the municipality!
“Goldwater, Dubé will then sponsor a program of contraception for Do, a deer, a female deer – and her sisters and cousins! – so that the remaining population of deer remains stable,” Me Goldwater added.
A North American animal rights law leader
Me Goldwater’s recent foray into wildlife protection is just the latest chapter in her long journey to give voice to the voiceless. In 2018, following Me Goldwater’s intervention at the National Assembly, the Quebec government rejected breed-specific legislation (BSL or commonly known as “pit bull” bans) in its update of the previous government’s dangerous dog legislation. This current law addresses the security of all Quebecers; those on two legs and four.
“I applaud the government’s legislative initiative to make dog owners and guardians responsible for public security,” said Me Goldwater in May of that year. “Remember: just as people are entitled to safety, dogs also deserve to be safe and well-cared for.”
Until we achieve a truly just and equitable balance in legislation to protect both humans and animals, Goldwater, Dubé stands ready to defend all creatures great and small in the face of cruelty and indifference.
Photo: Chris Chow // Unsplash