Friday, January 7, 2011

Resourcefulness at the OHS

Ottawa Humane Society staff and volunteers tend to be a resourceful bunch. We have to be. Unlike some workplaces, there simply isn’t someone to do everything. There are fewer resources overall and finding creative solutions isn’t only valued, its an absolute necessity. Our staff and volunteers tend to have more in common with small business owners — who have to learn and do outside of our immediate job — because, if we don’t, there is no one else to do it for us. And of course, we care for the animals and deliver programs for our community without the one tool that we and the animals need the most: an appropriately-sized and up to date shelter.

You see examples of resourcefulness all the time here at the OHS: 50 cats admitted in one day? Put them in rabbit cages in offices. An unexpected discovery of pigs? Build a makeshift pen in our back dog run. Aging pipes burst? Put on toques and long underwear and keep cleaning, treating and feeding the animals.

Overcrowding of cats
Our existing shelter presents a great many everyday challenges, beyond the obvious concerns regarding animals overcrowding and health. Just getting down a hallway that generally has cats housed in it, along with bags of food, treatment carts and more can be like running an obstacle course. Our staff have one small room that has to serve as a lunch room, kitchen, change and locker room. Several months ago, a staff member walked passed a wall-mounted sink and it suddenly and spontaneously fell off the wall! These problems haven’t been with us for the past few months, or even the past few years – OHS staff and volunteers have been facing these challenges for at least two decades. Thankfully, with our community’s support, these challenges will end soon.

Piglets in the dog run
Beyond the obvious love and concern for animals that you see all around here every day, lately, a major motivator for all of us has been the prospect of finally having a permanent solution to many of our problems: a new shelter. If we don’t always have to create “work-arounds” then all of our creativity can be devoted both to enhanced care and long-term solutions for the animals in our community. We all envision new programs and strategies made possible by the space: ones that will enhance care, reduce animal suffering and decrease the numbers of animals that need our services over time.

A day without heat!
Another motivator has been our community’s enthusiastic response to our Breaking Ground Campaign. Knowing that the community supports the work we do means so much to all of us at the OHS. While we have not yet achieved our goal, more and more of the people who care about our community and its animals have come forward, made their pledge and assured a brighter future. As a result, we are 82% of the way to our goal and feel confident that we can achieve the amount necessary to make this project a reality, after so many years.

We all look forward to welcoming our community to a new facility; one of which we can be proud and where we will be able to house animals the way they should be housed. In the meantime, though, our staff and our volunteers endure, make do and find creative solutions, to help the animals that so desperately need us.

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