The images were horrifying, but at the same time animal rights activists are hoping they strike enough of a nerve at Montreal city hall to shut down animal shelter Le Berger Blanc.

A report on Radio-Canada's investigative journalism program Enquete alleges Le Berger Blanc shelter isn't respecting norms and practices required by law in North America.

A journalist went undercover inside Le Berger Blanc with a hidden camera and shot footage of animals living in squalid conditions, cooped up in small cages and being injected, presumably, with drugs.

It was enough to make Montreal veterinarian Dr. Judith Weissmann shudder.

"Professionally it's frightening," she told CTV Montreal's Tarah Schwartz. "There's no veterinarian present in the footage I saw. There's nobody responsible as a vet for the acts that were done to those animals."

Weissmann appeared on Enquete to give her thoughts on the footage shot by the undercover journalist. She saw animals being euthanized and couldn't believe her eyes.

"Those drugs that are in the hands of the Berger Blanc are controlled drugs and they should only be administered with trained veterinary technicians, or with vets themselves," she said.

Le Berger Blanc is a privately-run shelter that holds the animal control contracts for 10 boroughs of Montreal and 12 other cities in the area.

A lengthy, unsigned open letter appeared on the Le Berger Blanc website on Friday. The note criticized the TV report and made several personal accusations against the undercover reporter, who was not named.

Later Friday, Le Berger Blanc announced it would be holding a news conference sometime next week to give its side of the story.

But in many ways, the damage has already been done.

A group of Quebec celebrities and animal rights activists held a news conference Friday to denounce the city of Montreal's continued use of Le Berger Blanc for animal control services and called for the shelter to be shut down.

"I was in disbelief that it was actually that bad," said former Montreal Canadien Georges Laraque.

Gabriel Villeneuve of SPCA Canada says Montreal city hall had misguided motives in choosing Le Berger Blanc as its contractor.

"Montreal decided to hand the contract to a privately owned business to make money," she said.

The city responded by saying it would add more investigators and spot checks, but gave no indication that it's relationship with Le Berger Blanc would change at this time.

Montreal is one of the only cities in Canada where a private, for-profit company is hired to control the animal population - and many people want that to change.

"This is an opportunity for the city of Montreal," Weissmann said, "for the city of Montreal to take control of this disgraceful dossier and make it right."

SPA Canada, which says one of its people infiltrated Le Berger Blanc on behalf of Enquete, is organizing a protest outside Montreal city hall on Saturday at 1 p.m.