Thursday, August 21, 2014

Psst! You May Not Have Heard...

We have been telling anyone who will listen for the past few years that our Pre-Authorized Withdrawal (PAW) program is the best way for you to help the animals. Nothing has changed. PAW remains a secure and easily managed way to help the more than 10,000 animals that need the OHS—and you— every single year. The costs with PAW are low, so a far larger percentage of your gift goes to the animals than with other ways of supporting the OHS.

I know PAW may not be the way that you want to help the animals right now. I expect you know that making a one-time gift online or by mail is the second best way to help the animals. I expect you know about the Wiggle Waggle Walkathon and the Run for the Animals, the FurBall and the Summer Harvest Garden Party and would participate if any were the right way for you to support the animals.
But there are a few ways to help the animals that you may not know about. Maybe some of these are right for you?

United Way
Did you know that you can direct part or all of your United Way gift to animals in need? It's simple! All you need is the OHS charitable number when you complete your pledge form. More information about United Way directed gifts can be found at:

My Event
Raising funds is so easy with My Event. Available on the OHS website, the feature allows you to send emails to your friends, family and other contacts to ask them to support you in raising funds. Gifts are processed at the OHS and receipts sent to you or your donor friend auto-magically by the OHS server! Some very special people have used My Event to solicit gifts to the animals in lieu of wedding or birthday gifts, or have asked to be sponsored in a run or other challenge. My Events is at:

Pet Tributes
Knowing your gift will help thousands of other pets can be
a consolation when someone loses a beloved animal companion.

Pets are now very much a part of our families and their loss can be as devastating. When someone close to you loses a beloved pet, knowing that you are thinking of them, and that your gift will help thousands of other pets, can be a consolation. Some people have told me that raising funds in memory of their own lost pet to help so many was a healing project. It's easy. Our staff will send an e-note or paper note as you wish. All tributes can be accessed at:

Ottawa Humane Society BMO MasterCard
Our newly launched BMO OHS MasterCard is a simple way to rescue animals as you shop. A percentage of your spending will go to the animals as a part of our affinity agreement with BMO and this new card. You can even use it for your next online gift to the animals! More information about the new OHS BMO MasterCard can be found at:

These are just a few of the ways that you can save lives and help the Ottawa Humane Society care for more than 10,000 animals that need our help and have nowhere else to go.

If you have already tried one of these great, but lesser known ways to help the animals, I would like to hear your experience. Please write me at

Thank you for all you do for Ottawa's animals!

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Sunday, August 17, 2014

In Praise of Black Cats

I have had a lot of cats in my life. Growing up on a farm, many of them were "working cats, "there to keep the rodent population in check. And of course, as is the case with many farms, cats were dumped at the end of our long laneway by city-dwellers who no longer wanted their pet or their pet's offspring.

Though I was very attached to some of the working cats, the relationship could not be the same as with an indoor cat, and it was only in my 20s that I lived with indoor cats.

My favourite, by far, was a tom named Butch. I didn't name him. Butch was the greatest cat ever. I have to confess that I like cats that act a bit more like dogs: ones that greet you at the door when you come home, are always up for a game or a cuddle and frankly, just seem to like me. Butch was this and more. And he was pure jet black.
Me circa 1985 with the greatest cat ever—
who happens to be black. 

It surprises me that black cats are not more popular today. The old myths about black cats are no longer a part of our culture. I would have thought that any long-passed occult association would be a plus today with the popularity of Harry Potter and the many other witch/wizard/vampire franchises. I would have thought black cats would be cool.

It seems to me that black cats are more feline—black highlighting a sinewy elegance that so many people admire. Like a panther. Only a lot smaller.

Here at the OHS, by the end of the summer, with so many cats admitted, cared for, and transferred to adoptions, invariably the number and percentage of black cats rises, as their white, tabby, tuxedo and other cat friends are adopted, while the black ones remain waiting for someone to fall in love with them.

I hate to think that the next greatest cat ever might be overlooked, just because of the colour of his fur.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Helping “Hard to Place” Dogs

Trudy is what shelters call a “hard to place” dog. She has been at the OHS for over three months now. Trudy is often overlooked by hopeful new families because of her rather large size and dark colouring. Those that do take a closer look often shy away when they meet her and experience first-hand her very boisterous and vocal nature; others simply aren't a good match for a dog that really isn't a dog park kind of girl (marketing lingo for “does not like other dogs”). And have we mentioned that Trudy likes cats…a little too much?

Size and colour issues are no match for our eager Adoption team. Gentlemen will no longer prefer blondes by the time our staff have mounted their marketing efforts. But while a slick salesperson may try to convince you that an ill-fitting garment really does flatter your figure, the stakes are simply too high for dogs like Trudy for us to value placing her quickly over finding a permanent, loving home that can meet her needs. It just may take awhile.

Trudy has been at the OHS for over three months and is often
overlooked because of her large size and dark colouring.
Leading animal welfare organizations predict that it will not be long before the supply of puppies, small dogs and adorable, healthy young pets are a very small fraction of homeless pet populations. Many shelters are already experiencing this; some cater to their communities’ desires for such pets by importing highly adoptable pups from neighbouring cities or countries.
Trudy does still have her age—and her good health—working in her favour. Many dogs are harder to place because they’re a little long in the tooth or suffer from a chronic but highly manageable health condition. Do they not still deserve a second chance? Should we not be devoting more resources to helping more dogs like Trudy find homes—or to helping dogs with even more challenges than Trudy become adoptable in the first place, rather than “brokering” pups from afar?

We think so. And thanks to you, we can do more every day. And so, while Trudy waits for her new family to come forward, we’re helping things along by ensuring that she receives enrichment to keep her relaxed in the shelter environment and training to help her develop good habits, so that she’s ready to put her best paw forward when that family does appear, no matter how long that takes.

Of course, the OHS will always be a strong partner in the animal welfare community, and when we do have resources to help another community in need, we have helped and will continue to help more animals to find homes through our shelter.

Sharon Miko
Deputy Executive Director

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Discover the Kitties Behind the Label: Adopt a Special Needs Cat in August and Get a Free Vet Visit!

Could Jake be the right match for you? 
Do you have a family member with a heart murmur? How about a friend with a gluten allergy? Just like their human companions, our animal friends may have health or behavioural challenges that may need a little extra TLC. And, just like you and me, these unique characteristics shouldn’t stop these pets from living a happy life surrounded by the love of a forever family.

This August, get to know the cats behind the “special needs” label. This month, adopt a cat or kitten with special needs and your new best friend’s initial vet visit is free. This $85 value is to encourage potential forever families to see the felines behind the label, like Jake, a catnip-crazy kitty who loves to play with laser lights and gets along with dogs. Sure, he has some tummy troubles — but they don’t define him.

The OHS special needs adoptions program helps older animals and pets with often easily manageable conditions get a second chance at finding a forever home. Conditions may include food allergies needing a special diet, thyroid conditions requiring regular, though inexpensive, medication, or heart murmurs that probably need nothing more than annual monitoring.

All pets need to visit the vet to stay healthy, not just those with special needs. But some people see the words “special needs” and move on to the next cat, passing by wonderful pets like Jake without a second look, without taking the time to learn about the kitty behind the label. 

Meet Jake and other special needs cats at the OHS Adoption Centre at 245 West Hunt Club Rd. or visit the website at for more information. Visit the OHS to consult with adoption staff about whether a special needs pet is right for you.  

Natalie Pona
Communications Manager 

Friday, August 1, 2014

OHS Summer Harvest Garden Party is the Foodie Event of the Summer

This year's Summer Harvest Garden Party is just around the corner.

The event, in honour of the late Chef Kurt Waldele (pictured above), who 
hosted the event for many years, is the most delicious way to help the animals.

Ottawa's chefs go all out to make the event memorable.

Mark Sunday August 10 on your calendar. You won't want to
 miss this culinary adventure.

Tickets are only $125 and are selling fast.

This year's party will be in the beautiful Jean Pigott Place at Ottawa's City Hall.

It will be a foodie paradise.

 Let's not forget the wine.

For more information and to get your tickets, please visit the Summer Harvest Garden Party on the OHS website

Bruce Roney
OHS Executive Director 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Off-Leash Camp at the OHS

Off-Leash Camp at the OHS is well into the third week of the summer session and, as expected, campers are paws-itively loving every minute of it. Most kids come to camp because they love animals and some are budding veterinarians. Camp programming offers campers hands-on opportunities to explore OHS shelter life in a way they never have before.

Through weekly visits from internal guest speakers, campers are able to catch a glimpse of the compassion and dedication of OHS staff.
Off-Leash campers get to examine ear mites
and tapeworms with veterinary technicians.

  • Rescue and Investigation Services agents share vivid stories such as helping a skunk with its head stuck in a jar and they also share information on the dangers of leaving a dog in a car in the hot summer sun.
  • Adoptions counsellors share animal adoption stories and ask campers about what makes a good home for a variety of animals.
  • Animal care attendants describe what they do in a typical day – from feeding or walking dogs to taking a minute to show animals a bit of extra love.
  • Veterinary technicians often bring specimens such as ear mites or tape worms (contained of course) for the campers to examine. They explain what happens in a typical day and the variety of animals they see.
  • The canine co-ordinator demonstrates how dogs are temperament tested.
Camp programming is filled with multiple animal interactions as well as animal-related crafts and games.

As with all OHS children’s programming, campers are always encouraged to ask questions and express their opinions about any animal related topic we discuss. At the end each week, our goal is to ultimately have inspired this younger generation to understand what responsible pet ownership and animal welfare really means.

Lori Marcantonio
Director: Outreach

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Returning Lost Cats: We Need Our Community's Help

Last year 3,841 lost cats weren't claimed by their owners. We tried, but we need your help.
We have made some tremendous progress in many, many areas, particularly since our move to West Hunt Club. Almost every one of our measures shows improvement. The one glaring exception? Our one stubbornly low statistic is our cat return-to-owner rate. Last fiscal year, it was an abysmal 5.2%. Worse, it has only exceeded 6% one year in the last decade. That means of the 4,052 stray cats admitted last year, only 211 went home, most because no one came looking for them. When added to the several thousand cats surrendered by their owners, that creates enormous pressure as we care for and rehome this huge number of cats.
Even indoor cats escape - a tag and microchip on every cat
would ensure that every lost cat would get home.

We have tried many strategies over the years to return more lost cats to their homes, but none have had a significant effect. We are coming to realize that we can't do this on our own. We need our community's help.

What can you do?
First, keep your cat indoors. We estimate that this one step in responsible animal ownership would reduce the number of stray and injured cats by over a half.

Second, identify your cat. Even indoor cats escape, especially in the summer, when the screen door is opened and closed a lot, and when the outdoors is full of tempting sights sounds and smells. A tag and microchip on every cat would ensure that every lost cat would get home. A city registration even comes with a free ride home!

If you find a cat:
Don't assume that her owner isn't looking for her. File a found report through our web site or contact our lost & found department or 613-725-9998 right away. You can also:
  • Place a free notice in the “found” section of the newspaper or on-line lost pet sites
  • Put up fliers in your neighbourhood and talk to your neighbours
  • Take the animal to the OHS or a veterinary clinic to check for a microchip
If you have lost your cat:
Search the area at dusk and/or dawn - be cautious around cars and garbage cans. Inform your neighbours and ask them not to feed your cat. Visit the Humane Society as soon as possible.
You can also:
  • Make fliers that include the lost date, description and any unique markings, a picture and your phone number - a reward motivates people!
  • Make familiar sounds to attract your pet and walk around your neighbourhood in the morning and evening calling your pet's name
  • Put fliers up around your neighbourhood, shops, vet clinics and anywhere else, including your old neighbourhood if you've recently moved
  • Place the kitty litter outside - while it may sound strange, this helps nervous or shy cats who may have bolted return to a site that "smells" familiar
  • Place a lost ad in the paper and on-line. Check the found section
  • Check with the neighbours, mail carrier, newspaper and other delivery people, local vet clinics, etc.
By working together as a community, we can help all of our feline friends return to their home!

Bruce Roney
Executive Director