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

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Elephant That Brought Down a King

Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, abdicated on June 19, 2014. The once-popular monarch's popularity had sunk dramatically over the past several years.  The last straw for the Spanish people, according to most reports, was a hunting trip the King took to Botswana in April of 2012. Juan Carlos was hunting elephants.

According to newspaper reports, the principal concern of Spaniards was the cost of the trip, which "... cost upwards of $8,700 a week, with an elephant costing a further $15,000 to kill." The whole trip was estimated to cost a total of 44,000 Euros. Spain, of course, has been suffering a poor economy, and has undergone severe austerity measures. People are suffering.  

Juan Carlos was the honorary head of the Spanish branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature, until July 2012, when WWFN-Spain held a meeting in Madrid and decided to remove the king from the honorary presidency.

I don't think that the cost of this expedition is the bigger problem. What do you think?  

Bruce Roney
Executive Director 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Project Orphan Kitten

June is “cat month” at the Ottawa Humane Society—the month where stray and abandoned felines start arriving by the boxful. Many come to us in need of intensive care and treatment before we can place them into their new, forever homes.
Many kittens that come into our care are in need of
intensive care and treatment.

Stray and abandoned felines are arriving by the boxful.
Last year, the OHS launched its successful “Kitten Brigade” program—a fast-track foster initiative to boost our number of foster homes and place some of our most vulnerable cats and kittens into temporary homes as soon as possible, so that they receive the individualized care and attention they need outside of our busy shelter environment. We helped close to 120 cats and kittens through this program last summer, and this summer we hope to help even more!

Helping these tiny creatures eat is just one of the
many extensive needs that staff and volunteers
are working hard to provide orphan kittens.
This year, with your help, the OHS has taken its efforts a step further by launching an Orphan Kitten program to meet the extensive needs of its youngest and most fragile charges. From providing special vitamin injections to cleaning these tiny creatures, and helping them to eat, staff and volunteers are working hard to provide hundreds of orphans a second chance.

So far, we have helped over 50 kittens through the Orphan Kitten program—and the season is just ramping up. We are proud to announce our first program graduate: Oliver, a beautiful 12-week-old grey kitten, went to his forever home earlier this week! Thank you for making Oliver’s future a bright one.
Interested in volunteering for either of our kitty programs? Contact us today at

Sharon Miko
Deputy Executive Director

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Breezy's Case Will Redefine Animal Welfare

Breezy finally got her happy ending in a new, loving home.
By now, you will likely have heard the outcome of sentencing in the Breezy case.

Steven Helfer, 24, pleaded guilty in December to animal cruelty for the attack on Breezy, a young lab-cross, in addition to other crimes, and was in court for sentencing this morning. Helfer received a two-year sentence, will not be allowed to own an animal for 25 years, and will be on probation for three years. This is the longest sentence we have seen in Ottawa and believe it's the longest seen in Canada for animal abuse.

How do we feel at the Ottawa Humane Society? Relieved.

This has been a long journey and an emotional one for our staff and volunteers. Seasoned staff were very shaken by this case. Our community was shaken too. The outrage for the crime and concern for the innocent victim surprised even us. Something changed. The violence of this crime shocked Ottawa as no other. Even those not particularly devoted to animals and their welfare seemed to recognize that this crime meant something bigger. The community rallied behind Breezy like no animal before. It was the case that would define the next phase of animal welfare. Our community is more aware of what happens to animals in our midst. And it wants it to change.

We all hoped and prayed for Breezy when we weren't sure she would live. We desperately wanted a happy ending for her. And she got it in the form of a new, loving home.

We were all anxious about the legal outcome. We all needed to know that this crime would not go unpunished. We needed to know because of what it would mean about our community if it did. Justice needed to happen.

We have closure, but our eyes are opened.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

P.S. I would be remiss if I didn't thank the many people who devoted so much to Breezy. Our outstanding Rescue and Investigation Services team, who first responded to the crime and supported the investigation are second to none. Our animal care team, veterinary partners and many volunteers all gave their all to bring Breezy back from the brink. Our first-rate adoption staff used their considerable talents to find the perfect home to meet Breezy's special needs.

Of course, dozens of animals are rescued and cared for every day by OHS staff and volunteers. None of them can be here for the animals without you, our committed supporters.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dangerous Trend: Increase in Charges and Reports of Dogs Left in Hot Cars

This year, the Ottawa Humane Society has laid more charges and gotten more calls to save dogs from hot cars this spring than ever before, exposing a dangerous trend that could put even more dogs at risk as the weather heats up.

By this time last year, just two people faced charges for leaving dogs in hot cars. This year, despite the slower start to the summer weather, that number has climbed to three. Calls to report dogs found in hot cars this year has risen nearly 20 per cent, from 81 to 97. 

"Unfortunately, people are still leaving their dogs behind when they run into the store," said OHS Insp. Smith. "This could kill your dog. Even 10 minutes with the kind of heat and humidity we get in summer and your dog could die. Your car becomes an oven very quickly."
Calls to report dogs found in hot cars
this year has risen nearly 20 per cent.

The latest charge came Monday when an owner allegedly left his two-month-old Mastiff, named Gucci, inside the car for two hours. The puppy, who was panting heavily and trying to hide under the seat, was checked out by an agent at the scene. His owner, Tagried Mohamed, 19, has been charged with permitting distress to an animal. He first appears in court on July 3. 

One day before that, an Old English sheepdog named Spencer was allegedly left for more than an hour while his owners were at Rideau Carleton Raceway. An OHS agent rushed Spencer, 11, for emergency care. He was treated with IV fluids, cold towels and ice packs to bring down his temperature. Spencer recovered but his owners, Marin Umbres, 57, and Carmen Palos, 52, have been charged with failing to meet the standard of care and causing distress. They are scheduled to first appear in court on July 10. 

It’s not clear whether this year's jump in numbers can be pinned on increased awareness leading to more reports or on more people leaving their dogs in hot cars, Smith said. 

"Either way, the calls we’re getting means we have a serious problem with dogs being left to cook in cars," Smith said. When it’s hot, keep your pet at home, she said. 

"That decision may save your dog's life," Smith said. 

If you see an animal in distress, call the OHS emergency line at 613-725-1532.

Natalie Pona
Manager: Communications

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer at the OHS

Now that summer has finally arrived, things will be getting very lively here at the OHS. I say "lively" because both great things and tremendous challenges are a part of the season.

As soon as the weather gets warm, the shelter begins to fill with stray animals and those surrendered by their owners. In fact, our intake rises from a dozen or so a day, to up to 50 animals some days, all of whom have nowhere else to go. A sad fact is that, as summer holiday time approaches in June, the number of animals surrendered peaks, often as a result of pets not being a part of their owner's summer plans. 
The children who attend OHS camps leave with knowledge
and attitudes that will change the future for Ottawa's animals.

Along with challenge of so many animals needing our care in the shelter, we rescue far too many from hot cars. Even before temperatures climb into the 30s, temperatures inside parked cars, even on moderate days, can soar to 40 degrees and beyond. As many as two dozen dogs every week will need to be rescued from these vehicular ovens this summer.

Summer also becomes lively in a good way. One of our favourite additions is the very popular summer camps that begin at the end of the school year. Almost 400 children attended our camps last summer. Not only do they bring life to the OHS, but they leave with knowledge and attitudes that will change the future for Ottawa's animals. In addition to our young summer campers, we also reached 2,444 through our other camps, children's tours and birthday parties and an astounding 6,900 through our school and summer humane education programs. We think that their learning experiences will result in permanent change. They won't leave their pets in hot cars, and they won't surrender their pet to go on holidays.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director