"It's a big impact."
Anyone who has pets will know that they're more than just a four-legged roommate — they're loyal companions.
Furry friends are there to comfort you, help you cope with life's ups and downs, make you laugh and ensure you're never without company. Dr. Rebecca De Arburn Parent knows this to be true. Her two adopted pets, Barbie and Fugueuse, help make her house a home.
As a veterinarian and specialized animal surgeon, Dr. De Arburn Parent often sees animals left behind by owners who can't afford to take care of them. She also sees the impact that's made when those animals are finally adopted into a loving home, and how the animal can add joy and love to their new forever homes.
With over 100,000 cats and dogs taken into Canada's animal shelters each year, the credo "adopt, don't shop" isn't just fitting, but necessary.
Knowing that so many pets are in need, Royale (the household paper brand with beloved fluffy white kittens on its packaging) has brought back the Royale Home for Every Pet Project for a second year to help animals find a forever home.
Since launching in 2020, the Royale Home for Every Pet Project has invested over $225,000 in partner animal shelters. This year, they released a collection of five adoption stories, including Barbie and Fugueuse's, to help shine a light on the benefits of pet adoption.
If you'd like to support the cause, you can start on your next grocery run! From now until October 13, Royale will provide you with a $5 coupon and make a $5 donation to its 100+ partner animal shelters across Canada on all purchases of $20 of Royale products. Plus, for a limited time, you can spot Barbie and Fugueuse on Royale packaging in place of their iconic white kittens.
In this interview with Narcity, Dr. De Arburn Parent talks about her own experience with animal adoption, the importance of animal shelters and why it's crucial to raise awareness of animal adoption in Montreal.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
"I'm Dr. Rebecca De Arburn Parent. I'm a veterinarian but I'm also a specialized surgeon, more specifically. I also do volunteer work for several organizations, including Humane Society International and the Aristopattes."
Tell us a bit about Fugueuse and Barbie.
"I'll start with Fugueuse. I don't know exactly how old she is. I found her on the street about three years ago during the winter. She was already an adult at the time, so it's still difficult to estimate her exact age. She's likely between 3 and 4 years old but could be as old as 10 years old.
"She's a domestic cat, but she has something special: she has a very small tail. Usually, cats that have short tails like that are a breed called Manx. I don't know if she has any genes from that breed.
"Barbie is a 2-year-old dog. We got her when she was a baby. My boyfriend and I, [he] is also a veterinarian, adopted her at work. Barbie was abandoned because she had a broken paw and her owners couldn't afford to operate on her paw or take care of her. When my partner saw her, he fell in love with her."
Did you have any pets before you brought Fugueuse and Barbie into the house?
"Yes. I had three dogs at the time. My old Labrador, Chrome, passed away a few weeks ago. So now I have two dogs and three cats. Everyone gets along well. We are really lucky as that's not always the case with so many pets.
"For example, for Fugueuse, she's a female and all of our cats are also female. Oftentimes, having three female cats together doesn't work very well, just character-wise. But our three cats are quite independent and they manage to all hang out in the house together. They get along really, really well.
"The two dogs — Barbie and a 13-year-old pug named Dorothe — are inseparable. They are really great friends and always do the same things. With Barbie, it was super easy to train her because we had two old dogs at home who set an example. We didn't need to show her much, she just followed the others.
"Our cats and dogs interact more than the cats do with each other. Barbie and Croquette (another one of my adopted cats) have a lot of play interactions. It's really fun."
How has your life changed since you adopted them?
"Having smaller dogs has positively changed our activity level as a family. When we had Chrome, the old Labrador, he was about 16 years old. You couldn't take him for long walks but now that we just have Barbie and Dorothe, we started hiking again with them, and that's fun. For Dorothe, who is old but is still very fit, having one active dog around is very stimulating for her."
There can sometimes be a negative connotation surrounding pet adoption. Is there anything you would like to clarify regarding animal adoption?
"I think the answer to that question is really to debunk the myth that adopting a shelter animal is adopting a problem animal, that's not true. If you want to adopt a healthy animal, you only need to specify it to the shelter you're dealing with and they'll match you with an animal that fits with your lifestyle.
"Pet adoption brings such joy and happiness to a home, so I would encourage everyone to visit your local SPCA to find an animal that's a match for you and your family."
What impact can Montrealers have in the community if they consider adopting pets instead of buying them?
"It's a major impact, for sure. Animal adoption is said to save two lives: the life of the animal being adopted, and the life of the animal that will take its place in the shelter. Shelters are generally overwhelmed; they have maximum capacities, they are voluntary activities, and we can't save all the animals in them.
"[...] It's a big impact. I also think that by limiting adoption on, for example, animal shopping sites, we also have a direct impact on this industry."
How can everyday Montrealers help pets who need a home if they are unable to adopt?
"There are several ways. If they can't adopt because they don't want the long-term commitment but are able to have a pet in the house intermittently, they can become a foster family...The vast majority of shelters provide everything you need. It's a great way to get involved and also to test to see if you're ready to have a pet in the house.
"Following the shelters on social media and sharing their mission helps a lot. And obviously, donating and supporting the cause monetarily; that's what helps the most.
"But there are other ways to get involved too. There are always plenty of shelters looking for people to either take care of their social networks or help out with claw-cutting campaigns, things like that. You can volunteer in a shelter without necessarily having an animal at home. It can be a nice way to help out."
If you're in the market to adopt a pet, visit your local animal shelter or SPCA. If you're unable to adopt a pet, you can still help by volunteering, donating or simply spreading the word.
You can also support the cause by purchasing $20 of Royale products. Until October 13, Royale will provide you with a $5 coupon and make a $5 donation to its partner animal shelters across Canada.
Want to learn more about pet adoption? The Royale Home for Every Pet Project has featured the stories of five adopted pets, including Barbie and Fugueuse, that you can watch online. Remember to keep an eye out for Barbie, Fugueuse and other adopted animals on Royale packaging in place of the brand's iconic white kittens for a limited time.