• Jules-Pierre Malartre

Annual high-end garage sale for a good cause


Joëlle Panchyshyn and Christine Heidt with some of their furry friends saved from the streets.

Despite the presence of a number of official animal rescue organizations and shelters in the province, animal abandonment remains an issue in most municipalities. While the old-school attitude has always been to entrust the management of stray animals to animal control services, more and more cities are passing bylaws that recognize the issue as one stemming not from the animals, but from the irresponsible behavior of some pet owners who simply abandon their animals. More and more cities are moving to grant some level of protection and rights to those animals. Regardless, all shelters are always operating at full capacity.

The solution lies in building awareness and in recruiting the public to help fight the problem. Joëlle Panchyshyn and Christine Heidt are two Hudson residents who have taken it upon themselves to help. On top of volunteering with various shelters and rescue organizations, both women have been busy for the past few years organizing fundraisers to come to the aid of abandoned animals. "Hudson's motto is, 'Noblesse oblige.' We hope it will move people into action, Christine says.

Joëlle's yearly garage sale has become a well-know and anticipated event since its first one back in 2012. Once a year, Joëlle, Christine, and a number of volunteers assemble a rather high-end range of products for sale in a Thanksgiving garage sale with all proceeds going to a number of local animal rescue organizations, including CASCA, Steri-Animal, Rosie's Adoption and SPCA Ouest. Funds are used to treat, shelter and rehome stray and abandoned pets.

"The people who come to the garage sale are not really interested in buying things. They really just want to give to the cause," Christine says.

While some others are looking for a bargain, Christine says, "I usually tell them this is for a cause, and we are not making any money on it and I refuse to bargain, especially if I feel that there is no compassion for the animals."

More and more local municipalities are passing by-laws that grant abandoned animals some rights and protection rather than treating them as pests, but there is still room for improvement at the provincial and federal level, according to Christine. "The government should support our case because they are taking in money from breeders and pet shops who sell unsterilized animals." By sterilizing strays, Christine, a 75-year-old retiree, feels that she is assuming the responsibility of negligent pet owners who contribute to pet population. Sterilization of a household pet is rather inexpensive but a large number of pet owners simply won't assume the expense. Many animal rescuers feel that some pet owners think of their pets as disposable furniture. Mahatma Gandhi's statement, “The civility of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way it treats its animals,” has become a mantra for Joëlle and Christine's work.

Despite the problem still being severe, both Christine and Joëlle see some improvement. Increasing public awareness while stemming the flow of abandonment is more important than ever and there is need for more volunteers in all rescue organizations. "We are also looking for volunteers to help us foster cats until they are adopted," Christine adds. If you wish to donate items for the sale, Joëlle and Christine accept donations in working and clean condition. "Clothing and books do not sell, and they should be brought to Nova Hudson and to libraries, respectively," Christine says.

The garage sale will be held October 8 through 10 at 910 Main Road in Hudson. You can reach Christine at (450) 458-8699 or Joëlle at -(450) 458-0121 if you want to make a donation.

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