MONTREAL - Animal rights activists gathered on the steps of Montreal's city hall Saturday to demand it cancel contracts with a shelter alleged to abuse animals.

The protesters are responding to allegations the city's privately-run, for-profit animal shelter Berger Blanc neglected and mistreated animals in its care.

"This is totally unacceptable. Animals are members of our family. They deserve respect," said event organizer Sameer Muldeen from the Society for the Protection of Animals.

Radio-Canada's investigative journalism show Enquete carried out an undercover investigation of Berger Blanc, shooting explosive video that raised questions about how animals should be euthanized.

In the video, animals are seen living in tiny, neglected cages and are injected with what appears to be drugs.

"I don't think it reflects the values of the people of Quebec in terms of how they think that animals should be treated," said protester Shelley Talbot.

At Saturday's demonstration, Astrid Molina said she brought her dog Teddy to the shelter to be euthanized in December. The 15-year-old dog's health was deteriorating.

Molina said she believes she saw her beloved pet in the video.

"It was the hardest decision to take in my life. I would have at least wanted him to have a peaceful death and not to be tortured before he died," she said.

Protesters want the City of Montreal to cancel all contracts with the Berger Blanc. They are asking for his resignation if he doesn't take action on the issue.

The City of Montreal responded to the protesters please with this statement issued to CTV News:

"We have heard the protesters' message today. After the shocking images were broadcast, we strongly condemned all animal cruelty. We are keeping an eye on the Berger Blanc. We will have more inspectors carrying out regular inspections and spot checks."

The city also said it hasn't ruled out cancelling contracts with Berger Blanc or making animal control a municipal responsibility, removing the onus from for-profit operations.

The Berger Blanc declined to comment Saturday, but earlier in the week issued a lengthy statement on its website, criticizing the undercover report.

The note made several personal accusations against the undercover reporter, who was not named.

Berger Blanc also announced it will hold a news conference sometime next week to offer its side of the story.