Thursday, December 20, 2012

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps - means a little bit more!

Does anyone remember this advertisement from a decade ago?  It was a tie-in with the release of the live action version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.   The scene and voice over was the famous part near the end of the beloved book, Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps... means a little bit more!"   Then another voice, interjects, “But in case he's wrong, there's always your Visa card!”

Nowadays, Christmas and its symbols are being used to sell everything from credit cards and computers to carpets and coffee and cameras. Lately the ante has been upped. Now it's the “The true spirit of Christmas” that is marketing hook used to sell, sell, sell.  And as with the Visa ad, the irony screams.

I think that everyone that celebrates Christmas wants to find its true spirit, but along the way, “the spirit of giving” becomes “the spirit of shopping” and we are stressed, tired and empty at the end.

What is the true spirit of Christmas?  “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men” seems pretty good to me, though the peace part seems elusive.

So this Christmas, let's all try to spread a little goodwill toward men… and women and children and of course, animals.  Let's practice the arts of peace. One of them is gratitude. I'll start:

Thank you for helping us rescue and care for 11,000 animals this and every year. Thank you for caring. Thank you for volunteering, adopting, and donating. Thank you for the notes of encouragement. Thank you for forgiving us when we make a mistake. Thank you for the cookies that you dropped off yesterday. And most of all, thank you for helping us build a more compassionate community.

Oh, and Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2012

For a Safe and Happy Holiday

Christmas is a busy time of the year for most of us, and sometimes safeguarding our pets gets lost in the general chaos that can accompany the season.  I want to remind you of a few things that will help to keep your pets safe and healthy:

If you're entertaining, you may wish to keep your pets in a quiet room away from the noise and activity.  If they're mingling among the guests, make sure you're monitoring them so that they don't share your guests’ holiday foods.

Christmas ornaments should be "pet-friendly".  Avoid using tinsel on trees, as curious animals are attracted by the shiny strings and may swallow them, which can lead to serious injury and expensive surgery.  Ornaments hung on lower tree limbs should not be breakable.  Also, keep your tree free of decorations made of food.

Be careful with Christmas lights. Secure electrical cords and conceal outlets.  Pets may chew on cords.  Remember to keep pets away from open flames.

Some Christmas plants are toxic to pets.  Keep your pets away from mistletoe, holly, poinsettias and amaryllis.  If ingested, these may cause vomiting, diarrhea and other problems.  If your pet has ingested something you're unsure about, call your veterinarian or one of Ottawa's 24 hour emergency clinics.

After gifts have been unwrapped, discard strings and ribbons, which could be dangerous play toys for pets.

You're not the only one looking under the tree with curiosity.  If you don't know what’s in a package, don't leave it under the tree.  You may find out the hard way that Aunt Jane got you a delicious box of Belgian truffles.  Chocolate is toxic for both cats and dogs.

Always ensure that your pet is wearing adequate identification.  With more frequent comings-and-goings, it's easy for your pet to slip out of the house unnoticed and we want to be able to return your pet to you safe and sound.

From our Ottawa Humane Society family to your family, please accept our warmest wishes for a safe and happy holiday.

Bruce Roney, 
Executive Director

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Puppy Mill back in Business: Ask the Quebec Government to Act

OHS supporters have been flooding us with information about the notorious Paws-R-Us puppy mill operators once again selling dogs on-line.  

We were outraged to learn last spring that the operators of the horrendous facility that the OHS helped to shut down would be banned from breeding for only two years.  Now, after less than a year, they appear to be back at callously exploiting dogs for profit.

The Shawville operation is well outside OHS jurisdiction, but we assisted in the rescue and re-homing last year and are very concerned about the fate of the mill's current victims. 

The OHS contacted Quebec authorities at ANIMA-Quebec  who have given us a tepid response.   Now OHS Executive Director Bruce Roney has written a strong letter to François Gendron, the Deputy Premier and Quebec Minister responsible, asking him to take immediate action. You can read the letter on our website.

Stand up for these new victims by adding your appeal to the Minister to act.  Minister Gendron can be contacted by email, mail, fax or telephone.  The Minister’s contact information is:
François Gendron                                                                                               
Deputy Premier, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation
200, chemin Sainte-Foy 12e étage
Québec (Quebec)  G1R 4X6

Telephone: 418 380-2525

Fax: 418 380-2184

Bruce Roney,
Executive Director

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Animal Group that tried to Stop a Killer

A Fifth Estate report to be aired tonight has documented  that early warnings had gone to both Toronto and Montreal police that alleged killer Luka Magnotta was danger to the community.  The documentary delves into the cat-and-mouse game Magnotta played with a group of 11 amateur online sleuths — dubbed the Animal Beta Project—beginning in 2010, and continuing over a period of 18 months leading up to the murder of student Jun Lin.
The group had been tracking Magnotta on-line since he allegedly began posting gruesome videos of himself torturing and killing cats.  The sleuths, some of whom chose to remain anonymous in the documentary, believed if Magnotta was, indeed a cat killer, it wasn't a stretch to imagine him killing humans.  They tracked his identity and whereabouts on-line and first warned Toronto police, and later the Montreal force when Magnotta relocated there.  

The humane movement has long-documented and warned about the connection between violence against animals and violence against humans.  We believe our efforts to build compassion and empathy by bringing together animals and children can achieve a less violent community over time.

For more information about the Ottawa Humane Society’s education and other programs for children, please visit

Bruce Roney, 
Executive Director

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An Invitation

It's nice to have people drop by this time of year.  It's true at home and here at the Ottawa Humane Society.  It's great to at last have the kind of place that we can welcome our community to visit.

Our old Champagne Avenue shelter was too small, and frankly too depressing to invite people over.  Of course, we were grateful when people came over to find their forever friend, but it wasn't really the kind of place just to visit. 

The West Hunt Club shelter is very different. It was designed for people to drop by. It's bright and spacious and the animals are happy and accessible.  There is plenty to see, and a lot going on.   If you haven't yet visited, I think you will like it. And there is no better time to visit than the holidays.  We've decorated and are waiting to roll out the red carpet for you.

I really hope that you and your family will join us for our holiday open house on Saturday December 1 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM.  There will be refreshments, holiday crafts for the kids, Santa will be here, and of course, the animals are waiting to see you.

If you can't make it on December the 1st, please do drop by over the holidays.  We are pretty proud of our new shelter, and look forward to telling you about all it has allowed us to do for the animals in our care today, and how we are building a brighter future for tomorrow’s animals.

Bruce Roney, 
Executive Director

Friday, November 16, 2012

A pet is for life, not just for Christmas.

Of all the messages that humane societies in North America have tried to lodge in people’s brains, the most successful is this: "Don’t adopt a pet at Christmas".  Unfortunately, although that is what many people heard, it generally wasn't the intended message.  The real message—and it’s pretty catchy—is this:  "A pet is for life, not just for Christmas."   

Years ago, seeing abandonment and relinquishment of hundreds of thousands of pets given as gifts, the humane movement wanted people to stop and think about their commitment and readiness before bringing a pet into their family. Too often parents were buying dogs and cats for their children like disposable Barbies or Hot Wheels.  To this day, most humane societies have deep concerns about pets as gifts, and most, like the Ottawa Humane Society, will not adopt a pet to someone intending it as a gift for someone else.

Some of you will want to write to call me on this, having read about our successful Christmas delivery program, where Santa -hatted volunteers deliver pets to excited children on Christmas morning. (Or in one case, an evening of Hanukkah ) What you may not have noticed is that these adoptions had actually been completed days before Christmas, following the OHS’s usual adoption screening and education regime with the parents.  In fact, the whole event has been carefully planned, and the children are the only ones that are surprised.

The Christmas holidays have changed significantly.  A trend toward smaller families and greater mobility across the country has meant that holiday celebrations are often much smaller and quieter now for many of us.  With some preparation and certain precautions, the Christmas holidays may be an excellent time to bring a pet into your family.  It may be one of only a few times in the year that you are able to stay home from work, or have a break from hectic family schedules to help your pet adjust to her new life with you.

Certainly there are hazards for pets that can increase at Christmas. Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats.  Ingesting tinsel and ribbon is a significant risk to cats as it can easily lodge in their intestines. Chewing on cords for holiday lighting is a risk to dogs.   But perhaps the greatest risk to both dogs and cats at the holidays is simply slipping outside during holiday commotion and becoming injured or lost.

Bringing a pet into your life deserves careful consideration at any time of the year.  The Ottawa Humane Society is here to help you match a pet to your lifestyle and help you integrate an animal into your home.   Call, visit, or go online at for assistance in finding your forever friend—and to find out more about the OHS at Christmas and all year long.

P.S.  Please join Santa and the animals on Saturday, December 1,  from 1PM until 4PM at 245 West Hunt Club for the Ottawa Humane Society Holiday Open House.  

Bruce Roney, 
Executive Director

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Help a Dog Find a Loving Home this October!

We've all become pretty used to being very full with cats.  It surprises me when we have so many dogs, though.  At the moment, we even have dogs in “the back” who have been medically and temperament- assessed, and are just awaiting a spot in our very full Adoption Centre—just that one more stop on their way to a forever home.  Usually when great dogs are available, they only stay a few days before being snapped up by an eager adopter! It's ironic that we have so many waiting in October, this month being “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month”.

So, why not help us mark this month by taking one of these great dogs into your life?  Visit to see the dogs available for adoption right now.  If it’s not the time for you, please pass the information onto your friends and family.  If you have some free time, why not drop by our new West Hunt Club location and visit the dogs, the cats and all our other animal friends. While you are here, you can learn about the OHS and all of our exciting new programs.
Just look at some of the faces of the dogs hoping you and I will help them find a second chance in a forever home.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Meet a dog as sweet as Honey!
Jewel will stand by your side!

Target would love a home with another canine friend!
Teddie loves long walks!

Colt would make a loyal friend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Love us or hate us, but please make sure it’s us!

No one likes to be criticized.  But when you work at a humane society, your skin starts to thicken as you begin to realize that you can’t please everyone. Some think we are too harsh or too lax, too quick to respond, or too slow to act. Why aren't we strictly vegan in everything we do? Or why are we even concerned about “that nonsense”?  You realize after a while, that it is more important that people care about the same things you do, than that they agree with you all the time.

I will admit it is tougher to be criticized for something that you didn't do, something you actually have nothing to do with.  Close to a decade ago, in the same week, the OHS was criticized for spending money to rescue a terrier trapped on a boat off the coast of Hawaii (We didn't, it was the Humane Society of Maui), and I was congratulated for adopting a dog from the meat market in Vietnam (I didn't, and wouldn't.)   It is great that when people think of a humane society, they think of us, but it’s hard to explain yourself when it wasn't even you.

Lately, the OHS has been taking some flack for the case of the Lyndhurst dog breeder who was served a warrant for one of her dogs requiring dentistry.  Only thing is, it wasn't us.  It was the OSPCA—the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  To be fair, I had to go to Google maps myself to find out where Lyndhurst is.  (It’s about half way between Smith’s Falls and Gananoque, by the way.)  One way or another, it is well outside the jurisdiction of the Ottawa Humane Society—the City of Ottawa. 

The OHS is an independent affiliate of the OSPCA, meaning we have our own board, our own management, our own policies, and our own staff to investigate animal cruelty and neglect.  As the named organization in the Act, the OSPCA, essentially, licenses us.  We don’t agree with the OSPCA all the time, as I am sure they don’t agree with us, and that is fine. We all learn from both criticism and praise we receive.  Of course, this is true only if they go to the right place.

Please send your criticism and praise to the Ottawa Humane Society at

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Friday, October 5, 2012

Our Investigation's Work

Most Humane Societies and SPCAs in Ontario not only care for animals, but as independent affiliates of the OSPCA, also have police powers under the OPSCA Act to investigate animal cruelty and neglect, This  puts us in a unique position among our local colleagues.  When other groups go wrong and run afoul of the law, it is the Ottawa Humane Society that is responsible for investigating and intervening.   It is a difficult situation to be in, but it is a responsibility we take very seriously.

At the OHS, when it comes to our investigatory role, our philosophy is to take the least intrusive measure possible in order to achieve a lasting and satisfactory outcome.  In the vast majority of cases, this means we are educating and advising. We can and do issue orders and remove animals to relieve their distress. We can and do charge people under the OSPCA Act and the Criminal Code. But orders, removals and charges are very much the exception, reserved for the few that will not comply with the law or are so serious in nature that a legal action is demanded. In fact, so successful are our educational interventions that of the more than 1,000 investigations we undertake every year, only a dozen or two require charges. 

When we take the exceptional step of laying charges, and when it is the painful exception of another group that is charged, it is a reminder that not all animal organizations are the same.  Of course, some are outstanding. Many produce much good with few resources.  Some know what to do, but cannot, as they have taken on too much.  Some are misguided, and believe that leaving an animal in illness and in pain is an acceptable alternative to euthanasia.  Some are animal hoarders under a different guise. Some will not change with education, advice, or any of the less severe interventions open to us.  And so to protect animals we are left with the only remaining option of charges.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director
Ottawa Humane Society

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Be Our Guest!

Before the Ottawa Humane Society moved to our new West Hunt Club facility a year ago last June, we were in pretty cramped quarters—not to mention dark institutional and bleak!  I was not surprised that a lot of people told me that they didn’t visit the OHS because it depressed them.   Frankly, we weren’t all that anxious to have visitors, unless they were there to adopt or to look for a lost pet or otherwise use or support our services. The place was just too small to accommodate guests that just dropped by, and that was a loss for the OHS, the animals and our community.

That is why the new West Hunt Club shelter was designed to be very welcoming, spacious and bright.  We want visitors, even if it’s for no particular reason. The building was designed to be an educational tool itself, and so you and your children can learn something about animal welfare, just by visiting.    Our guests are often surprised that they can walk right into the community cat rooms, no cages, no bars, no glass—just you and the cats.  Everyone appreciates seeing the dogs behind glass, instead of bars.  Visitors enjoy our new store, the Buddy and Belle Boutique. It has a great range of fun and unique things for sale. And the animals are our stockholders, so all the proceeds go right back into their care.

So this is your invitation.  I hope you and your family will visit us and the animals at our new 245 West Hunt Club location soon.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director
Ottawa Humane Society

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Animals Need UsToday.

There are a lot of challenges for a humane society.  Just caring for 11,000 animals every year is a momentous task on its own.  Providing 365-day-a-year emergency rescue, animal cruelty and neglect investigation, a fully staffed veterinary clinic, managing a 600-member volunteer contingent, delivering leading-edge education programs for children and adults to change the future, are a lot of tasks for one agency.   We are a hospital, a police force, a hospice, a hostel, a school, a store, a social-service agency and more—all wrapped up into one pretty complex organization.

Public expectations of us are high. In order for the OHS to meet those expectations, since our services are not funded, our community’s support needs to be high too.  The OHS does a lot to fundraise for the animals.  We organize great events.  We mail, email and telephone our supporters frequently to tell them about the animals and our great work, and to ask for support. By and large, our community responds.  It responds because we never refuse an animal, no matter how sick, injured, old or aggressive, because homeless, injured, abused and neglected animals have nowhere else to turn. 
So far this year, despite huge efforts, we have not met a number of our fundraising targets.  The usually popular Wiggle Waggle Walkathon showed inexplicably low results compared to last year.  We are surveying previous walkers to try to find out why, how we can improve the walk and bring walkers back, but in the meantime, there are almost 600 animals in our care today that need our help. 
Our United Way directed-donation cheque arrived—much lower than expected.   We are visiting more workplaces, rallies, campaign launches and barbecues than ever before to improve next year’s results, but today 28 animals need to be rescued from injury, abuse or neglect.   
To date, adoptions have been lower than expected.  We include sterilization, vaccination, pet insurance, and other inclusions worth many times more than the adoption fee.  We are in 19 convenient locations in addition to our West Hunt Club Shelter, and we are looking at new and better ways to promote OHS adoptions for the future, but today there are 132 animals ready and waiting for a loving home and a new life.
In order to keep caring, rescuing, adopting, investigating, educating and generally making our community better for animals and people, we need your support today.
Bruce Roney
Executive Director
Ottawa Humane Society

Donate Now

Friday, September 7, 2012

Learn How Technology can Overcome Procrastination and Save Lives

There are two things about me that only my closest friends likely know:

First, I tend to procrastinate when it comes to personal tasks.  I can leave laundry a surprisingly long time. Cleaning out the garage has been a year-long project, and counting.  I moved a year ago and there are at least 10 pictures still waiting to be hung.  Fortunately, I have overcome this in my work life.

Second, I love technology.  I love gadgets, especially ones that save time or provide elegant solutions to problems. When software can do a task in three seconds that used to take a day, I think it’s really cool. Increasingly, if I can’t get it on-line, I’m not getting it.  This is likely one of the reasons that the OHS uses more and better technology to help us track our work, care for animals, measure our outcomes, and raise funds than other like-sized charities and humane societies.
This Sunday is our 24th annual Wiggle Waggle Walkathon, our most important fundraising event of the year.  The animals depend on people turning out and raising funds, and I’m more than a bit worried that not enough people are going to this year. If you procrastinate like me, you haven’t downloaded the pledge form yet, and don’t yet have sponsors.   But, if you are also like me, and love what technology can do, check out the walkathon page here. You can register on-line, create a cool personal page with a thermometer to track your fundraising, auto-magically send “sponsor me” emails to your friends, family and colleagues – all in only minutes.  And technology will have overcome procrastination, and the animals win.
Please share this with the tech-savvy procrastinators in your life.  See you Sunday!
Bruce Roney
Executive Director
Ottawa Humane Society

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The big OHS tent

I like to think of the Ottawa Humane Society as a “big tent” where everyone that cares about animals is welcome.  For that matter, even those that don’t particularly care about animals are welcome in our tent, where we hope they will learn that how we treat our weakest and most vulnerable is the most accurate reflection of our humanity.

When you invite everyone into your big tent, you know that not everyone is going to be the same, agree, or view the world the same way.  Our supporters are a diverse lot.  
While the OHS is squarely in the "animal welfare" corner, many think we are "animal rights".* Or that we should be.  Some are vegetarians or vegans, most are not. Some protest that there is meat served at OHS events.  Many paying guests would protest if there were not. 
Last weekend, as 200 guests were being wowed by food and wine at our Summer Harvest Garden Party, OHS outreach staff were overwhelmed by the warm welcome they received while promoting our work and programs at Gay Pride for the first time ever.  Not all the names on the receipts I sign are Campbell and Smith anymore; increasingly they are Nguyen and Shirazi.
Several years ago, I was taken aback when a lady dropped into our Christmas Open House wearing a fur coat. It was cold, she was elderly, and the minks were years past suffering, but it surprised me that she happily wore it to a humane society nonetheless.
Some people associate us almost exclusively with dogs and cats, and not at all with the wild and farm animals that we rescue.  Some think we don’t do enough for livestock and wild animals.
I like that the OHS is a place where so many different people, with so many diverse views come together: donors, adopters, volunteers, board members, staff, and yes, even protesters.  For most of what the OHS does, there is an often vocal minority that thinks we should do it differently, or do something else, or do more.   That’s okay though. I know diversity and inclusion makes us stronger.
*I have always described the difference this way:  If you are animal welfare, you want to assure that the chicken you eat is raised in humane conditions, provided appropriate food, water and space and when the time comes, that the slaughter was humane and pain-free.  If you are animal rights, you don’t eat a chicken – chickens have rights. 
Bruce Roney
Executive Director
Ottawa Humane Society

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Best Events

Okay, maybe I am biased, but I really think that the Ottawa Humane Society hosts the best and most exciting fundraising events in Ottawa. 

This weekend will be the Summer Harvest Garden Party with some of the best food I have had in this town.  The oyster bar alone would be enough to make me attend, but for this memorial for Chef Kurt Waldele, Ottawa’s chefs go all out with some of their most creative dishes and the results are stunning.  Sample some fine wine, visit the new shelter,  play spot-the-celebrity,  and it adds up to the best Sunday you are likely to have this summer!

The Wiggle Waggle Walkathon will take place September 9.  The walk is not only the most important fundraiser for the animals of the year, but also the most fun. The huge variety of dogs always amazes me.  I see breeds that I have never seen before--or anywhere else.   It is also amazing to see so many dogs in one place--and they are all getting along!  It’s a great day for children too, given the many family-friendly activities.   

Whether you are a gourmet or a dog-watcher, you can help the OHS help Ottawa’s animals while having a great day out by participating in our events.
Tickets to the Summer Harvest Garden Party and all the tools you will need to raise pledges at the Wiggle Waggle Walkathon can all be found at

Bruce Roney  
Executive Director
Ottawa Humane Society


Monday, August 20, 2012

There is no such thing as a free kitten

With the advent of social media and on-line classified sales, the box of cute but unwanted kittens brought to the office has been replaced with on-line ads for these surplus felines. “Free to good home” advertisements are now disseminated much more widely and have become much more common.
Is there such a thing as a free kitten?  No!  Once even the early costs of caring for a young animal such as sterilization, vaccination, deworming, etc.  are factored in, the OHS estimates that it will cost more than $600 for a kitten and even more for a puppy in its first year, not including food and basic supplies.  Sadly, many people are shocked by these costs, and either simply ignore the animal’s needs or bring it to us at the humane society.
But money is not the only issue.  The root cause is irresponsible human behaviour.  People that take the free kitten, don’t sterilize it, and let it roam are a major source of unwanted litters.  In an Ottawa climate, potentially one cat and her offspring can produce a stunning 172,000 kittens in only seven years. Unvaccinated cats become a reservoir of infection that eventually migrates to any place where cats come to together in significant numbers—a feral cat colony or a shelter or other animal organization.
Too often, I hear people say that they let their cats breed—even multiple times—but that it was “okay” since they found them all homes. Over 7,000 cats end up at the Ottawa Humane Society every year.  Thirty-five percent of them are believed to have been acquired either from a friend or relative or from some form of “free to good home”.  Our community suffers from a major cat overpopulation problem and the people who allow their cat to breed are a large part of it.  But the people who take the “free kitten” also contribute to the problem, by either being irresponsible themselves or by sparing those that breed from the consequences of their actions.  Unwanted and neglected “free” cats ultimately suffer and have to be euthanized by someone other than the irresponsible person that brought them into the world.
Bruce Roney
Ottawa Humane Society Executive Director

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Tale of Lucky Luke... continued

And now... the moment you've all been waiting for... an update on Lucky Luke!

According to his new family, Luke is doing wonderful and has adjusted quite well to his new life. He no longer sleeps in the crate during the night, and has the run of the house during the day. He loves all the attention and enjoys being brushed, having his belly rubbed, and just hanging out. He still doesn’t bother with going up or down the stairs in the house and is very content. He loves long walks and even likes to run a bit.

Every night before he goes to bed he follows his new mom to his crate, gets in and waits for his treats. When he's finished his treats, he comes out and sleeps in the hall.

He gets lots of attention and has been out to a family friend’s farm where he met the horses and made new furry friends (just look at the photos)!

"We are so happy to have him!" the email concluded.
For those of you not familiar with Lucky Luke, the St. Bernard came to the OHS following a puppy mill seizure and was at the shelter for several months having spent the first part of his life in a cage with little or no human interraction. He is now in his forever home and his second chance at life seems to be shaping up perfectly.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What really goes on under the Big Top?

Just down West Hunt Club Road from the OHS shelter, you can see the summit of the Big Top tent. It’s official. The circus is in town. And just like last year, they’ve hauled the elephants along with them.

It’s 2012. We no longer allow bear baiting. We don’t allow dog fights. These cruel and dangerous activities have been relegated to history. So why is an exotic animal circus still condoned by our community?

Circus animals have been trained to do tricks using cruel and inhumane methods, and perform these acts out of fear and submission. Sharp tools, whips, electrical prods, baseball bats and metal pipes are used to train and force the animal to perform. And after the performance, the animals are caged in unnaturally small spaces moving from city to city. 

There is nothing natural about an elephant in a skirt trying to balance on a ball, and by labelling this “entertainment” our community is freely stating that dominating and exploiting animals is acceptable.

In 2002, I represented the OHS with other concerned animal welfare groups as we lobbied Ottawa City Councillors to include the banning of exotic animal entertainment in its new Animal Care and Control Bylaw, citing both human health and safety and animal welfare concerns.

It’s been 10 years, and little has changed. At that time the City agreed to license cruelty, so these circus acts need to fill out some forms and pay the municipality to have the “right” to perform in Ottawa.  

A ticket to the circus costs $20 (or $30 if you want to be as close as possible to the cruelty). The same amount can help us care for a sick, abused, or abandoned animal right here in our own community.

Please take a small step to end animal suffering by saying no to supporting a travelling circus.

Bruce Roney
Ottawa Humane Society Executive Director

Friday, August 3, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

Watch some of our Olympic Adoptables in action as we celebrate
the 2012 Summer Games and cheer on our very own champions!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Keep your pets safe in an emergency

We’ve been thinking a lot about fire lately here at the Ottawa Humane Society.

First, our friends at the Wild Bird Care Centre were threatened by the west end brush fires. Of course the OHS called and stood ready to assist with animal evacuation and short-term housing and care for their feathered charges.

Then arson struck the currently vacant former shelter on Champagne. The boiler room was broken into, and vandals piled books and papers into it and lit them on fire.

Fortunately the Champagne fire was extinguished, and the brush fires were brought under control and birds at the WBCC did not have to be evacuated.

Sometimes though, it takes crises and near misses to remind us to be better prepared. The OHS is now working with the WBCC to develop a formal plan to evacuate and house the birds in an emergency.

We want to remind you about planning for fire safety for your family and pets. The OHS has always been here to temporarily house animals displaced by fires, but your planning can save lives. We can also help make your pets safer with door stickers that tell firefighters that you have pets and how many.

Drop by, email or call to get your OHS Save my Pets Sticker. And please, have a safe summer!

Bruce Roney
Ottawa Humane Society Executive Director

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What is it going to take?

It’s 2012.  The Ottawa Humane Society has been trying to educate our community about not leaving dogs in cars for decades. 

I have done dozens of television, radio and newspaper interviews.

I have demonstrated on camera how fast temperatures rise in a car even on a relatively mild, partly cloudy day. 

We have created and distributed reminder decals for the doors of shopping centres and big box stores. 

We have created and distributed reminder pamphlets for windshields. 

We negotiated with the province for access to the license plate system so that we can send warning letters to motorists that leave the scene before we arrive.

Last summer, we decided going forward to charge everyone that we had a good case against and have proceeded with lengthy and costly legal proceedings.

And still this year so far, we have had over 140 calls about dogs left in hot cars and the Ottawa Sun says it’s overblown as an issue. 

What is it going to take?

If you see a dog trapped in a hot car, call our emergency line at 613-725-1532.  Our staff will help you assess the situation and walk you through the necessary steps.  We will dispatch an officer if required.

Bruce Roney
Ottawa Humane Society Executive Director

Read more about this hot button issue.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Introducing: Mayah

Last Sunday’s first anniversary of our move to the new building was a pretty great event.  It was fantastic to have so many people join us for a fun afternoon barbecue, rides and a huge cake!  Our new shelter is such a welcoming place for people to drop by and visit; quite a contrast to our old small  – and frankly, dingy  –  location.

I also had the pleasure of introducing our guests to Mayah, a sweet one-year-old Burnese mountain dog-Labrador cross. Mayah has been with us for almost four months and was #15 on our Operation: Forever Home list – highlighting animals that have been waiting a long time for the love of a caring family. 
Mayah is full of affectionate energy, despite having had her right rear leg amputated before she came into our care. Many of our guests rightly fell in love with her, which was my hope in walking her through the event. Unfortunately, none of the guests were in a position to give Mayah a forever home.   Are you?  If not, will you forward Mayah’s information to your friends and family that might find a place in their hearts and in their home for a special dog like Mayah?
Bruce Roney,
Ottawa Humane Society Executive Director

P.S. Operation: Forever home is continuing through July. Please share adopatable animals profiles to you Facebook friends and Twitter followers!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kids Go "Off-Leash"

I just dropped by the education centre to visit our brand-new, first-ever OHS “Off Leash” summer camp.  It’s only the third day, but is so great to see children in the building.  And they are so excited to be here! They really breathe life into our shelter.  I’m so grateful that we have the space for them to spend time with us.  They’re going to learn about animal welfare while they are having fun this week, and that makes me feel very positive about the future.  There has been so much interest in the eight one-week day camps that we are almost “sold out” for the whole summer! 

(Don't forget to find us on
Facebook or follow us on Twitter where we will post some photos of the kids enjoying their "Off-Leash" camp experience!)

In other news... Many people contacted us about the cat that was surrendered to the OHS after falling from the balcony she was left on.  A few callers think that we are euthanizing the cat. I want to assure everyone that this is not the case. The cat is in specialized foster care at the moment. She may require orthopaedic surgery, and if this is not possible, or the resources are unavailable, amputation is another option. Both cats and dogs adjust very quickly to the loss of a limb -- not appearing to even notice in a few days.  All to say, I have every belief that we will ultimately be adopting Muffy into a new loving home once we have treated her for her injuries and she is fully recovered.  

Bruce Roney
Ottawa Humane Society Executive Director

Friday, June 29, 2012

When Owners Can’t Afford Vet Care

Things at the OHS are almost never as simple as they appear. Among these is the OHS policy on owner surrender.  We write a lot about owners relinquishing their pets, particularly when the pet is sick or injured and requires veterinary care that the owner cannot afford, but we don’t always delve into why our policies are as they are.

With over 11,000 animals requiring our care every year, we certainly have no desire to add to our work.  We also don’t have the resources to pay for veterinary care whenever an owner asks us—and we are asked daily.  Our only solution to prevent animal suffering, do what we can afford, and at the same time hold an owner somewhat accountable for his or her pet, is to accept sick and injured animals as surrenders, help them as best we can, and, we hope, rehome them to a family that is willing and able to provide all of the care the animal needs.  Otherwise, what happens to the dog next time he needs veterinary care? What happens to the cat when she requires dental care?
We also provide a great deal of programming, information and advice about both planning ahead for a pet’s medical needs and for taking steps to limit the possibility of injury to a pet.  When an owner doesn’t plan ahead, and/or contributes to their pet’s injuries, the situation becomes even less simple.   I don’t think that our donors wish to support maintaining the animal in the home under many conditions, but rather would prefer we care for, and then rehome the animal.
Certainly we know the health and other benefits of having pet in our lives. Does that mean that everyone should have a pet? Does it mean that only people with money should have pets?  If a charity like the OHS had the funds to assist people in caring for their pets, should it be a gift or a loan? What about taking away money from homeless animals to help owned animals?  Would it be for emergencies only, or a lifetime of care?  What if the owner contributed to the injury by not protecting their pet?  Or what if the owner isn’t very responsible with the care of their pet in other ways?  How would all of this be assessed?
These issues are not easy or straightforward. What do you think?  Have your say here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bruce's Video Blog: A Visit to the Cat Condos

The Adoption Centre at our 245 West Hunt Club facility boasts an open-concept, inviting atmosphere for the cats (as well as those interested in adopting).

It always amazes me when I walk by members of the public peering throught the glass admiring the cats. "You know, you can go in and visit with them," I explain, and always get the same astonished, excited reaction.

I hope you enjoy this video, a glimpse into the lives of the cats at the OHS. There are a LOT of cats available for adoption, so if you or someone you know is considering bringing home a new feline, now may be the time to find your perfect match.

Read more about adopting from the OHS.

Bruce Roney
Ottawa Humane Society Executive Director

Friday, June 15, 2012

We’re full up

For the first time since the new shelter at 245 West Hunt Club opened, our Adoption Centre is completely full.

With no room in the Adoption Centre, new adoptable dogs can’t be moved from the holding area into the more spacious dog pods for the public to see.

A total of 26 dogs are currently available. Although our website profiles only 16, we’re currently calling potential adoption matches – people who have previously filled out an adoption request form – to try to find homes for the newest adoptable canines. The dog pods in the Adoption Centre are all occupied with dogs of all sizes, shapes and ages – with one thing in common – they’re all looking for a forever home! Summer can be a great time to welcome a dog into the family! Everyone is outdoors, bike riding, walking, being active – all things you can enjoy with your dog.

We also have more than 100 catsavailable for adoption at the West Hunt Club Facility as well as throughout the city at PAL (Pet store Adoption Location) partners.

Ally is just one of the beautiful canine companions waiting for a new home.

And we also have 44 small animalsand birds looking for new homes.

There is a pet for everyone at the OHS – large, small, furry or feathered.

Please spread the word and tell your friends to take visit our Adoption Centre. You might meet your new best friend!  

Please don’t shop, adopt.

Send this link to your friends and spread the word about what’s happening at the new OHS.

View animals available for adoption.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bird is the word

A feathered friend has taken up residence outside our director of operations’ office, proving that all types of animals benefit from the Ottawa Humane Society.

A staff member discovered the mother Killdeer and her nest, which is nestled amongst the rocks, the perfect place to camouflage her eggs. The spotted eggs could be mistaken as stones, and the nest blends in with its background.

Although Killdeer are considered shorebirds, they often live far from water, but they most frequently inhabit grasslands, fields, meadows, and pastures.  This bird chose her spot to call home close to our building and hasn’t abandoned ship even though there are dogs and people walking by frequently.
Home is where you make it, and this bird has chosen to snuggle up with the OHS. She must like the new shelter just as much as the anaimals here do!
We’ll keep an eye out and send an update if we see her hatchlings, though we don’t expect them to be around for long because Killdeer hatchlings are able to see and forage soon after birth.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer’s coming at the OHS!

Spring is starting to give way to summer and a lot of really exciting things are happening here at the OHS!

Our first ever day camp begins on next week’s school P.D. day and our weekly summer camps will start shortly after. This programming will not only bring needed revenue to the OHS to fund our animal welfare mandate, but is expected to bring long-term change in our community as our fresh charges graduate more compassionate and aware young citizens.

Overall, our new space is starting to be really well-used.  Birthday parties are taking off.  Colleagues and community groups are renting space in the building for meetings and events.  A celebration of our first anniversary in the new shelter is in the works.

Our spring deluge of animals has hit, but it feels very different than any other year in my 12 here at the OHS.  It doesn’t feel like a crisis.  Our shelter, clinic, foster and other staff are very busy, for sure. About 240 animals came into our care in the last week alone.  That’s a lot of animals in a week, and a lot of care was needed.  But moving to the new facility has changed a lot for the OHS and the animals.  Many fewer animals are stressed, and so are not becoming ill in the shelter.  Staff can perform their work more efficiently. The Clinic staff is performing spays and neuters faster and making sure animals are moving to the adoption centre quickly. The centre is getting full, as are our Pet Adoption Locations (PAL) in the community, but we know they will find forever homes very soon.

Enjoy your summer. It’s always too short and if you are like me, you never do all you hoped to.  Now and   again, though, take a few minutes to remember the animals.

Bruce Roney
Ottawa Humane Society Executive Director

Friday, May 25, 2012

Do you know where your cat is?

My friend’s cat was hit by a car two weeks ago. 

Mimi is a very sweet cat.  You probably  know her—she is the cat that doesn’t go far off the property, not really; all the neighbours watch out for her; she’s too smart to be on the road when a car comes by, and it’s a quiet street, anyway—that cat.

Mimi’s pelvis was broken, her leg mangled. 

They hoped that her leg could be saved, but it was apparent that she was going to be in constant pain for the rest of her life, and so the best thing to do was to amputate. With the amputation, two weeks of semi-immobility to allow her pelvis to heal, and veterinary bills equivalent to a nice European holiday for two, Mimi is close to being her old self.

Bruce Roney
Ottawa Humane Society Executive Director

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Programs: one more way to serve the community

In my mind, one of the measures of the success of our new West Hunt Club facility is how much it is used by the OHS and by the community.  Our dividable, and therefore very versatile, double classroom is one part of the building that is a good measure of how active we are as a humane society.

I am anxiously awaiting the soon-to-be-launched new programming in the Education Centre space.

Dog obedience and pre-adoption classes, as well as enhanced training for our own staff can be expected to make a positive difference in the lives of animals in the short-term. 

Even more exciting are the youth and children’s programming—summer and PD day camps, animal programming with young people at risk, and other innovative new programs here at the OHS that we expect will make a difference in the lives of animals in the long term.

Check them out!

Bruce Roney
Ottawa Humane Society Executive Director

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