Montreal proposes several measures to improve animal welfare on the island. (CBC)

The city of Montreal has pledged to overhaul its animal welfare services and encourage responsible pet ownership.

City officials announced a series of measures Friday to redress its current system, which has come under fire for relying on Berger Blanc, a widely-criticized private pound.

A recent Radio-Canada report  documented Berger Blanc's cruel treatment of lost and abandoned animals destined for euthanasia.

Montreal city hall was slammed for using Berger Blanc to control the island's animal population.

The report prompted two Montreal boroughs to cut ties with the private pound. But several boroughs are legally-bound to honour their contracts.

New measures proposed by the city include:

  • Harmonizing animal control bylaws in all 19 boroughs on the island.
  • Better enforcement of current rules.
  • Forcing pet owners who abandon their animals to cover all related costs (registration, sterilization,  vaccination, adoption or euthanasia).
  • Mandatory license registration for dogs and cats.
  • Higher fines for bylaw violations.

Montreal also proposes a public sterilization program, and a pet permit system. Some boroughs already require permits, but the rule isn't island-wide.

"We have to have consequences for [bad] behaviours," said Richard Deschamps, executive city council president.

Deschamps said the city has already taken steps to improve Berger Blanc's operations, by staging surprise inspections and assigning municipal workers to oversee animal handling at the pound.