Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Ottawa Humane Society needs your help!

Reptiles aren't everybody's favourite pet.  They aren't cuddly, often aren't cute, and they have specialized care needs. But, they do feel pain, do suffer, and they are most definitely a part of the Ottawa Humane Society's animal welfare mandate— and we take our mandate very seriously.  We investigate the abuse and neglect of reptiles. Since 2009, we have been empowered to inspect pet stores, and the reptiles present are a part of this inspection. We remove them if they are in distress, and we care for them in our shelter when we need to. We don't adopt them out, however. Their care is relatively complex, and they are often subject to impulse purchase, often driven by the trendiness of various species. We rely mainly on partners to place the very few that come into our care.

Most, if not all, of the work of the OHS is done in partnership. Our greatest partnership is the one with our community. We rely on our community for a great many things, one of which is to be our eyes and ears. We rely on reports from our community from those who have witnessed cruelty and neglect of any species. With reptiles, we receive very few complaints. In fact, all of last year, we received only two reports concerning reptiles. One was withdrawn as the store immediately resolved the issue.

It seems that there are issues with the care of reptiles in our community. We take this very seriously, and we ask that those with knowledge and evidence of their neglect step forward, partner with us, and help end it.  

Bruce Roney, 
Executive Director

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why I Chose To Be A Foster Volunteer

I don’t know how you do it. I would get attached and it would break my heart to have to return them.” This is usually what I hear when I tell people I foster cats for the Ottawa Humane Society. The truth is I do get attached and yes, it usually breaks my heart to have to return them but I continue nonetheless. The pain that is felt at the drop off is lessened by the scared, pitiful meow of the next orphaned kitten or heavily pregnant mama cat I pick up, usually the following day. I began fostering for the OHS in December of 2004 and I'm sad to say there has never been a time when there were no cats needing a temporary home to recover from injury or to deliver a litter of kittens. Fostering has been both incredibly rewarding and unbearably painful.

Even with the best TLC and veterinary care, fosters don’t always make it. The good news is that the vast majority do make it and they go on to find loving homes with the help of the OHS staff.

The ultimate goal is to see your foster win the heart of a new owner soon after being placed for adoption. I feared this happy ending may be out of reach for the two mature cats I brought home one day. They had been rescued from a probable situation of abuse. Their previous owner had threatened to shoot them if the OHS would not come to pick them up. They certainly weren't the most beautiful cats I had ever seen. Overweight, with thinning, dull-looking fur with the odd bald patches, I feared they would be overlooked by potential adopters. This incredibly sweet and gentle bonded pair spent several weeks with me getting used to regular brushing and proper nutrition. The time came for them to be put up for adoption together. A lengthy letter describing the little I knew about their past, and most importantly their exceptionally gentle and loving nature, must have helped. They were adopted together a few days later.

My cats help me a great deal with the new fosters. They are incredibly tolerant of new arrivals and often act as surrogate mothers to orphaned kittens. They will allow them the comfort of nursing, albeit for short periods of time, and will gladly lick them clean until the little ones fall asleep, purring with contentment all snuggled together.

Big Mac was in foster care while
recovering from some dental work,
and is now up for adoption!
One of my own cats, Sunset, began drinking from the bathtub when my tap started slowly dripping. It took me a little longer than it should have to fix the problem but eventually I did. For Sunset, the bathtub is still her preferred source of water so I oblige her by leaving a Tupperware container filled with fresh water daily. This is a habit that every single kitten and many adult cats I've
fostered have picked up. So, if your newly adopted feline heads straight for the bathtub for a drink, he or she may well have spent some time in my home.

I know I can’t keep all my fosters but I sometimes wish I could maintain visitation rights.

Julie, Puzzles, Tippie, Sunset and Celeste (all former OHS cats)

Editor's note: If you are interested in being part of our Kitten Brigade, please visit our website :http://ottawahumane.ca/volunteer/foster_emergency.cfm.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why we name names

Like most policing agencies, the OHS releases the names of those it charges for animal cruelty and neglect. Though this is public information, from time to time, I get a call or a letter from someone concerned about the practice. Most often, the concerns are raised by friends and family of the accused.

It is important to be aware that the OHS only lays charges in a small fraction of the most serious cases, preferring to educate where we feel that can bring about change. Sometimes we are forced to lay charges in order to ensure that someone with mental health issues gets help. Too often, it is the only way that the animal's safety and well-being can be ensured when all reasonable alternatives fail. We do not publish or release these names. So only the most serious and most wilful crimes are reported to our community.

There are a number of reasons that the OHS releases the names of those charged. First and foremost, we want our community to be aware of the seriousness and range of crimes perpetrated against animals in Ottawa; crimes ranging from gross irresponsibility to truly horrific cruelty. We want our community to be vigilant in observing and reporting these crimes. We want them to take action where possible to influence better and more consequential legislation at all levels of government to protect animals.

We also want to educate our community, both that the neglect and cruelty are illegal and that the OHS is fully prepared to support the prosecution of those charged with it. We feel that these issues are not taken sufficiently seriously by many in our community, and that it is important to emphasize the seriousness and potential consequences of cruel or neglectful actions.  

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hey everybody!  While keeping cool during the heat wave I got thinking about how easy it is to register for the 25th Annual IAMS Wiggle Waggle Walkathon.  If you haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for?  It’s so easy that I – a three-legged dog – can do it!
  1. Visit our Walkathon page at www.ottawahumane.ca/walk
  2. Click on the “Register Here” button on the left.  It’s so big you can’t miss it!
  3. Agree to our waiver, then decide what kind of registration you want.  There are four:

    - Join as an individual.  If you and your pooch are walking by yourselves (and you don’t wish to start a team), choose this.

    - Start a team!  This is for families, a group of friends or coworkers, or a Veterinary team!

    - If someone has already started a team that you wish to join, choose this.

    - If you want to register more than one person (but not as a team), this is for you.
  4. Complete the sign-up, by choosing a log-in name and password.  Alternatively, you can sign-up with your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo! account.
  5. Enter in your information (name and addresses), and payment information.

Et voila!  Easier than stealing a food at a summer BBQ.

Our nifty website will take you to your “head quarters.”  There you can do lots of things, like:

  • Add a picture to your page
  •  Send emails to friends and family to show off how awesome you are
  •  Use Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! or LinkedIn to ask for donations.
  •  Check how many donations you’ve raised!
So hop on over to www.ottawahumane.ca/walk to register -  I can’t wait to see you and your pooch on Sunday,  September 8th!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The OHS “Off-Leash” summer camp season is off to a paw-sitively good start!

We are pleased to have a lot of returning campers who must have spread the word about all the fun they were having. The camps had been sold out by mid-May but due to the high demand, we've decided to add an extra two weeks of half-day camps to our summer roster. There are still a few spaces left! 

There is room from July 22-26 and from August 19-23, from 12:30-5:30 p.m., for week-long or daily registrations. Those two weeks are going to be packed with animal-related programming and each day is going to be a different theme, such as Vet Day or Animal Rescue Day. Please visit our website at www.ottawahumane.ca for more details and to register.

Campers enjoy playing games outdoors!
Summer camp season began at the OHS on June 24 when we launched our first ever “Off-Leash” camp in partnership with Funhaven. Campers spent the morning at the OHS and the afternoon at Funhaven. It was so much fun! In the morning, the kids got to learn about being a responsible pet owner, learned how to handle and approach dogs, watched a surgery, and got lots of animal interaction! In the afternoon, the campers got transported to Funhaven where they spent their time doing more animal-related programming, went to the park, went swimming at the pool, and spent some time playing at the Funhaven arcade!

Rolling into the second week of the summer, the kids got to learn about the importance of controlling the animal population by sterilizing their pets. They watched a temperament test and walked a few dogs. They also got to look at some X-rays and learned what our vets and clinic staffs do to help animals with broken bones. The kids even met one of the patients who came in with four paws, but due to her shattered hind leg, is now happily walking on three.

Campers visit Berkshire, a rabbit up for adoption!
One question we sometimes hear from parents is, “Why can’t my child spend more time with the animals?” The answer is that we have to strike a balance between accommodating our enthusiastic two-legged friends and caring for our four-legged ones. When our shelter animals are over-handled, they can get stressed out. We do our best to expose the campers to as many animals as we can, but we always have to make sure that our shelter animals are in the best mental and physical shape. If that means that the kids can’t visit the cats one day, we will be sure to fill their time with another fun, enriching activity instead.

We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to teach the next generation about the responsibilities of owning a pet. This will one day, hopefully, eliminate the need for so many animals to be cared for by our shelter.

Here’s to a fun-filled summer! Two paws up!

Lili Nguyen

Supervisor: Programs

Thursday, July 4, 2013

You spoke, we listened.

A157148-Junge.jpgAs part of our goal to be the very best we can be the OHS has conducted regular customer satisfaction surveys of our adopters for the past five years.

We are all proud that overall results have consistently shown a high level of satisfaction with our staff and the services adopters receive here at the OHS. When asked such questions as, "The staff member who helped me was knowledgeable, " If I were in a similar situation again, I would use the services of the OHS", and, "the fees I was charged were reasonable." overall the results were 94.5% favourable!

Our lowest positive rating since we began surveying has consistently been in response to the question, "The hours of operation were convenient." We have known for some time that we needed to expand our hours - particularly into Sunday.

Opening on Sundays is not as simple as it may sound. Staffing the Adoption Centre for a whole other day is a costly proposition. Further, we recognized that we could not open Adoptions without opening Admissions and Lost and Found as the public would expect to be able to admit stray animals, surrender their pets, and claim lost ones too, if Adoptions was open. We knew those services had to be available too. The City of Ottawa consistently refused to pay for the additional hours under our Purchase of Service Agreement for the stray animals which are its responsibility.

This year, we decided to "bite the bullet" and open both sides of our operations at our cost. The prospect of rehoming more animals through Sunday opening was just too important to await the City's support.

So, I am delighted to announce that, beginning Sunday, July 14, our Adoption Centre, Admissions, and Lost and Found will be open Sundays from 11 until 4. Join us that day for our "Sunday Grand Opening". There will be a cake to celebrate the grand opening, with balloons for kids, a 10% discount on everything in our Buddy & Belle Boutique (except food), and a 25% discount on products in the Boutique for anyone who adopts an animal that day. As well, all cats adopted will go home with a free Kitty Flick—a toy to start building their toy chest!

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