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

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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

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