Wednesday, December 31, 2014

You Helped Us to Do More and Get Better in 2014

Breezy and her new family
It seems like every year is a big year at the Ottawa Humane Society. I am so grateful to work for an organization where every year the way things are just isn't good enough, one that commits to more and better every year and 2014 was no exception.

Just a few examples of what you and the OHS achieved together:
  • You helped us develop and implement an Orphan Kitten Program for this vulnerable population
  • Together, we expanded our Pet Adoption Location (PAL) Program into veterinary clinics
  •  You helped us achieve the stiffest sentence for animal cruelty seen in Canada, with the sentencing of Breezy's attacker
  • Your support allowed us to launch our humane education school program in French and began to translate our key educational materials
  • Together, we increased the number of school children reached by our programs by an astounding 46%
  • Your support allowed us to launch new dog obedience programs
  • You helped us to brake the 700-strong mark in our volunteer team
Orphaned kitten at the OHS 
These achievements and  the many others would not have been possible without your kindness.  I'm looking forward to collecting the full list for our annual report. Even more, I am looking forward to what we will achieve together in 2015!
Dog obedience at the OHS 
Thank you for helping us make your humane society and your community a better place for both animals and humans.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Ottawa Humane Society

Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it the most.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Traditions and Animals

It used to be a familiar sight at Christmas in this country: the nativity scene, presided over by sheep, goats, often a donkey  and maybe a cow. I have seen some with dogs and cats as well. It is the mainstay of the traditional children's church Christmas pageant. The shyer children are often selected to play the animals. You may remember playing a sheep or a donkey in one as a child.

Nativity scene 
There are a lot of less familiar Christmas traditions around the world that involve animals. You may be surprised how many.

There is a Ukrainian tradition of decorating the Christmas tree with spider webs made from various materials—including crystal, paper, metal, and plastic—that is based on a cultural legend. It is said that a poor widow and her children couldn't decorate their Christmas tree, so it was bare. This made the children very sad so they started crying. Hearing the children's sobs, spiders that were in the house spun intricate webs on the tree to try to console the kids. When the family awoke the next morning, the sun’s rays turned the web - and the tree - silver and gold.

Also in Ukraine, Sviata Vecheria (the Christmas Eve Supper) features a humble and reverent 12-dish meal in honour of the twelve apostles spreading food for the soul throughout the world. The dishes contain no meat or dairy products to show respect for the animals that shared their place of shelter and were present for the birth of Christ.

In Latvia, during the yuletide season, Latvian "mummers," or people who dress up as entertainers during certain events, would dress up as animals such as bears or horses and parade from house to house in villages singing and dancing to ward off evil.

In Poland, families gather together on Christmas Eve (called Wigilia) and decorate their homes. They share sacred wafers similar to those used in communion to celebrate the season and also remember family members who are no longer with them.  Legend has it that if animals eat oplatek (a wafer) on Christmas Eve, they will be able to speak in human voices at midnight, but only those who are pure of spirit will be able to hear them.

One of the most famous Christmas songs in Norway is "Musevisa," or "The Mouse Song." The lyrics for this song were written in 1946 by Alf Pr√łysen. The song is about a mouse family getting ready for Christmas. The mother and father mice are warning their kids to be careful because of mouse traps.
In Finland, southern Germany and parts of Hungary,  wild birds are offered a special meal during the holidays. And in Sweden, on Christmas Eve, the cattle are given the best forage the house can afford, and afterwards a mess of all the celebratory food of which their masters have partaken; the horses are given the choicest hay and, later on, ale. 

In Sweden, on Christmas Eve, the cattle are given the best forage the house can afford
A common tradition is the "belief" that animals talk on Christmas Eve. According to an old tradition some farmers in Denmark feed their animals especially well, because since on the Christmas Eve animals can talk, and it would not be nice to hear bad words on this special night. Similar tradition includes placing gifts of food in forests and parks for the animals. In Romania there is a tradition of listening to hear if the farm animals talk on New Year's Day.

These traditions are delightful.  They come from a time where people recognized that their fates were tied to those of the animals.  Gratitude for animals and help in their welfare would have been understood in a very different way than today.  Now, our mostly urban lifestyles are disconnected both from nature and our sources of food. We may see the welfare of animals as a moral imperative, but seldom as connected to our own survival in the way our ancestors did.   

Have you created a modern version of animal holiday traditions? Do you buy your pet a Christmas present?  Was your pet included in your family's holiday portrait? Are your pet's names included on your Christmas cards?

Tell us on Facebook how you include animals in your holiday traditions.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Home for the Holidays

One of my all time favourite Christmas specials is The Homecoming, the TV movie that was the precursor to the long-running series, The Waltons. In it, the Walton family is preparing for Christmas in 1930's rural Virginia.  It is Christmas eve and they are waiting for their father John Walton to come home from his job in a city some 50 miles away. Since he is late, everyone is worried, and over the radio the mother and grandparents hear about an overturned bus and hurt travelers, but keep the news from the rest of the family. It is a simple story set in a simple time, but the coming home for Christmas subject resonates with me, as I suspect it does for a lot of people.

A quick Google search reveals a half-dozen or so movies with variation of the phrase as the title. The 1943 song I'll be Home for Christmas has been recorded by close to 150 singers since its first release. 

Clearly for a lot of us, Christmas is about homecomings. For me, since I work at the Ottawa Humane Society, some of the homecomings are for our animals, especially those that have been waiting a very long time for their forever homes.

Jasper, a young, beautiful black cat has been waiting since last February.  He is affectionate and playful, and all he needs is a special diet.

Max is a three-year old retriever/hound mix who just needs a little training and some room to move. He is sweet and active. Max has been waiting for a home since October.

Stacie has been waiting even longer than Jasper for her new home. Stacie is a lovely grey and white tabby.  She is cuddly and is looking for a one-cat home.

Jasper, Max and Stacie have been waiting a long time. Are you the person that will find it their heart to give a home to one of the animals that has been waiting?  Will you help us make their dream of Christmas homecoming come true by spreading the word about these great pets?

And may you make it home for Christmas, wherever that is for you, and may all your Christmas dreams come true.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Because of You...

We regularly share stories with you about animals in need, their healing processes and their happy endings. But did you know that you there, with us — right beside us — every step of the way?

When tiny kitten Ophelia came to the shelter this spring, one of more than 750 orphaned kittens arriving at the OHS every year, you were right alongside the specialized team of OHS staff and volunteers as they helped this struggling kitten survive without the love and attention of a mom.
Lovey and Dovey, a pair of two-year-old lovebirds, were surrendered to the OHS after a divorce. A month after arriving, you were right there with them when they were adopted together right in time for Valentine’s Day!
Lovey and Dovey
Rescue and Investigation Services agents allege Tyson’s owner got very mad after the young German shepherd ran away from home and tied him to a moving truck as punishment. You were right beside our agents while his rescue was underway.  And again when OHS veterinary staff helped heal his paws and back which were all cut up, there you were.
And what about Landon who got his happily ever after, thanks to you? Landon, a 12-year-old golden retriever, was surrendered to the OHS by his owner who could no longer care for him. Yes, you were there during his extensive dental care and treatment for an ear infection when he was adopted then sadly returned to our care when his new owner didn’t have time for him anymore — then he finally got adopted to a home with another dog where he remains happy and healthy today.
Landon in his forever home
You were also right there when we helped thousands of lost dogs, cats and small animals reunite with their families. Animals like Einstein, a lost guinea pig that was reunited with his family this past summer.

These are just a few examples of when you were there  right beside us  helping the more than 10,000 animals that come into our care each year — giving them a second chance. Together, we will continue our promise to save them, heal them, and protect them.

Lori Marcantonio
Director: Outreach & Interim Director: Development

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Surprise Your Kids This Holiday Season With a Pet and Make a Homeless Animal’s Dreams Come True

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring except a little OHS mouse. 

With the holidays quickly approaching, children everywhere can be found making lists of all the gifts and goodies they’d like to find under the tree. Not wanting to miss out, the animals here at the Ottawa Humane Society are busy doing the same thing: 

Max is wishing for a cozy bed to snuggle in, a squeaky tennis ball to chew on and a Kong filled with peanut butter; while Zander hopes for a scratching post, a laser to chase after and a bright, colourful collar to stand out against his beautiful white fur. 


With all the lists, though, there is one item that always comes up on top and that is a home for the holidays. If you have been dreaming of having the pitter patter of little furry feet around your home, you could make a special memory not only for an animal but for your family. With our HolidayDelivery Program, be it a guinea pig, cat, bird, rabbit or dog, our holiday elves will help you find the best match for your family and arrange for a magical holiday delivery that will remembered for years to come. 

Deliveries can be made for any of the nights of Hanukkah as well as Christmas morning; and while regular adoption procedures apply in addition to a delivery fee, don’t worry, our elves are really good at keeping a secret! 

So make the holidays bright for one of the amazing animals available at the Ottawa Humane Society and they will make sure that you get the best gift of all this year – unconditional love in a cuddly, furry bundle. Please contact our Adoption Centre at 613-725-3166, ext. 258, for more information or visit our website at

Looking for other ways to have fun with the OHS over the holiday season? Why not check out our Critter Christmas party? It's an exciting event for the whole family!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Frozen Kitten’s Brush With Death a Reminder to Protect Pets From Winter Weather

The plight of a tiny kitten revived from the dead after being left outside to freeze is a warning to pet owners to protect their animals from the cold now that winter weather has arrived in Ottawa.

Now recovering at the Ottawa Humane Society, the kitten, aptly named Lucky, was declared dead on arrival when a veterinarian first laid eyes on his lifeless body.

“This is an amazing story of survival and should really be a reminder to pet owners to be mindful of the risks of cold weather for their animals,” said Bruce Roney, OHS executive director. “Lucky was truly lucky this time. But he’s definitely used up eight of his nine lives.”

A Good Samaritan found the two-month-old kitten in a shed Sunday night suffering from severe hypothermia and rushed him for emergency care. The vet, who thought the kitten was dead, performed CPR in a final attempt to save his life. Astonishingly, Lucky’s tiny heart started beating again.

The vet gave Lucky medicine to keep his heart going and raised his body temperature with warmed IV fluids and heating pads. He’s presently in the critical care unit at the OHS.

Like Lucky, pets left outside too long risk frostbite and even death without shelter from the cold temperatures. Pet owners can protect their animals from the winter weather by taking a few precautions:
  • Cats should live indoors year-round and never be allowed to roam in the cold. 
  • Limit the time your dog spends outside. Take your dog for shorter, more frequent walks.
  • Consider a sweater or coat for your dog.
  • Be sure to wipe your dog’s paws after returning from a walk to remove salt, sand and other chemicals designed to melt ice and snow.
  • Dogs that live outside are required by law to have an insulated doghouse built from weather-proof material, facing away from prevailing winds. The shelter must be elevated from the ground with a door flap and bedding.
  • Keep an eye on outdoor water bowls. Make sure your pet’s water hasn’t frozen in the cold. 
  • Don’t leave your pet in a cold car for a long period of time.
  • Be mindful of animals that may have crawled under your car to keep warm. Bang on the hood a couple times to scare away cats and wildlife.

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Serving Our Heroes

For many veterans, a service dog becomes not only a life-
changer, but truly a life-saver.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of our pets is their powerful ability to impact us emotionally and inspire both our thoughts and our actions. They seem to sense just how we’re feeling and know just how to cheer us up, make us laugh, or give us the support and companionship we need. The OHS has been involved in animal assistive therapy with its Brightening Lives program since 1980, providing animal visits to people across the city who benefit from the attention and affection of a furry friend. We know these animals are making a real difference in people’s lives.

Brightening Lives is just one of many types of animal assistive therapy programs around today. While therapy dogs are increasingly found visiting hospitals, retirement homes, schools and universities, and service dogs continue to provide help to those with various needs, a very special group of elite service dogs provide meaningful support to our nation’s heroes—our veteran soldiers.

Specialized service dogs support veteran soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through their companionship, affection, and guidance in situations that may cause anxiety. As constant companions, these dogs bring calm and comfort to individuals whose past military experiences make the return to daily life challenging, with many experiencing stress and anxiety, flashbacks, feelings of isolation, and suicidal thoughts. For many veterans, a service dog becomes not only a life-changer, but truly a life-saver.

For veterans with PTSD, their canine companions provide unmatched support in virtually any difficult situation. In environments that are too busy and chaotic—such as shopping malls or busy streets—they bring a sense of calm and confidence to their human partners. Conversely, in conditions that are too tensely quiet for veterans, service dogs provide the company and affectionate distraction to relieve anxiety, paranoia, and flashbacks. And, they possess the power to sense when their human partner is beginning to feel stressed or agitated, and respond immediately and in the most effective of ways—proximity, attention, affection and, of course, lots of doggie kisses. In recent years, a number of veterans have spoken about their battles with suicidal thoughts, and attributed their success in this struggle primarily to their loyal, loving, and ever-attentive service dogs.

In May, the federal government announced a pilot project to research the impact of “psychiatric service dogs” on PTSD in veterans. While this research project is ongoing, some charities continue to provide the funding and training to prepare PTSD service dogs and provide them to veterans in need, free of charge. For these organizations, the evidence is already quite clear: a significant number of positive impacts have been reported in veterans who have been matched with elite service dogs, including increases in patience, impulse control, emotional regulation, sleep, a sense of belonging, parenting skills, and family dynamic. In addition, PTSD service dog have been linked to decreases in depression, startle responses, flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, and use of pain medication.

Service dogs are expensive and not funded by the government. One can cost up to $15,000 and take three years to train. But the evidence pointing to positive change in quality of life for soldiers due to the influence of a faithful service dog leads many to believe this is a service that should be available for our veterans. Therefore, today, in addition to honouring our nation’s heroes, we would like to pay tribute to the devoted service dogs that provide daily support to our veterans at home, and the dedicated organizations whose efforts have made these placements possible. We are grateful to have some exceptional canine companions serving our national heroes.

Andrea Tatarski
Co-ordinator: Humane Education

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.”
—Milan Kundera

Thursday, November 6, 2014

An Old Friend is a Good Friend

Sadly, animals like five-year-old Jaspurr are considered past
their prime as young counterparts quickly find homes.
Jaspurr is five years old, and while his human counterparts (in cat years!) are often just starting a family or buying a first home, Jaspurr is considered by many to be well past his prime. He has been waiting patiently for almost three months for the right family to discover what a great cat he is. Sadly, despite the fact that many cats today will live to celebrate their 20th birthdays and beyond, and many dogs will live well into their teens, pets are often considered “too old” when they’re barely out of adolescence.

Sadly, older pets often languish longer at shelters while their bouncy young counterparts frequently “fly off the shelves,” besotting adopters with their cute kitten looks and playful puppy ways. But the reality is, these older friends are a shelter’s best kept secret — and we want to tell you why!
  1. What you see is what you get. Shelter staff can usually tell you a lot more about the older pets in their care, which means you can make sure you find the right match for your family. You also won’t be surprised by how big that puppy might get or by how much exercise he’ll need! 
  2. Older pets have manners. Unlike kittens and puppies, many grown-up pets have spent years living with a family and being socialized to life with humans. Some have already received obedience training or know a few simple commands!
  3. They’re not a 24-7 job. Mature pets don’t require the constant monitoring that puppies and kittens do, leaving you with more freedom to do your own thing. If you have young children, or just value your “me time,” this is definitely a bonus.
  4. No expensive carpet cleaning bills! Older pets are often already housetrained … it usually just takes a few days to help them learn the toileting regime in their new home. 
  5. You get to sleep. All night. Little kitties love to hunt pipe cleaners at night, and little puppies aren’t great at holding it ‘til morning... the only thing an older pet might wake you with is his contented snoring!
  6. Your shoes and drapes are safe. You won’t see your mature pet scaling your silk curtains or chewing on your Manolo Blahniks… most of these guys are past that. 
  7. You can teach an old dog (and cat) new tricks! Adult animals are quick learners and focus more easily than their junior friends. The OHS offers obedience training for adult dogs — ask us for details! 
  8. Couch potato? He won’t judge you… he’ll join in. In fact, your mature pet will enjoy having more lap-time while you’re snoozing in front of Netflix on a Friday night. And while mature pets still need play and exercise, they usually won’t demand endless walks around the block.
  9. You can make the commitment. Let’s face it. A lot can happen in 20 years, and sometimes, we just can’t responsibly commit to a pet with that lifespan. But maybe you have five or 10 years to give to a pet in need. You can still enjoy the tremendous benefits of pet companionship. The level of commitment is the same but not for as long.
  10. You can be a hero to a deserving dog or cat. The truth is, older pets are simply harder to place. You can take pride in knowing that you have given a pet a wonderful home by opening your home and heart to them. 
For the month of November, the OHS is celebrating mature pets. Open your home and heart to one of our older pets in need. Read more here:

Sharon Miko
Deputy Executive Director

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tips to Keep Pets Safe on Halloween

That spooky night when little fairy princesses and mini pirates holler for suckers and gummy bears can be scary and even dangerous for Fluffy and Fido.

Here are six tips to help keep your pets safe this Halloween:
  1. Keep cats indoors: Cats allowed to go outside may become the target of people who want to hurt them. Keep cats inside where it's safe.
    Lit pumpkins and electrical cords can be a hazard for your
    feline friends and pooch pals.
  2. Don't take the family dog along when you're trick-or-treating: Even friendly dogs can get spooked on Halloween and there's a risk your dog could run off and get lost. Leave your dog at home.
  3. Use decorations with caution: Keep your pets away from lit pumpkins and electrical cords to avoid shocks and burns.
  4. Keep candy out of your pet's reach: Chocolate can be poisonous to many animals including dogs, cats and ferrets. And don't forget about wrappers - they can cause your pet to choke.
  5. Don't dress your pet in a costume unless you know he/she enjoys it: Some costumes can cause stress and injury to pets, making it tough to move, hear, breathe, bark or see. Never leave costumed pets unattended.
  6. Make sure your pets are properly identified: In case your pet runs outside, make sure he or she has a collar, tag and microchip so they'll increase their chances of being returned home. It's a good idea to keep pets in a separate room of the house so they can't slip out.
Remember, if you see an animal in immediate distress or danger at Halloween or any time of the year, please contact the OHS emergency line at 613-725-1532.

Natalie Pona 
Manager: Communications

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Raising Reptile Awareness

Now more commonly viewed as cool, rather than creepy, it seems reptiles are an increasingly popular choice for people who are in the market for a new pet. Reptiles certainly do have some qualities that make them lower maintenance than some other types of pets: they don’t need to be walked, they don’t shed (at least not fur!), some reptiles need to be fed only once a week or so, and they generally don’t make much noise. 

That being said, reptiles are by no means maintenance-free pets. They come with their own unique set of needs and challenges. Most reptiles sold at pet stores are exotic species – animals that are not native to this area and instead have been transported here by humans over hundreds of years. The OHS believes that the best place for wild or exotic animals like reptiles is in their natural environment because it is very challenging to meet all of the needs of these animals outside of their natural home.

Reptiles often have very specific housing requirements in terms of light, heat, and humidity. These need to be monitored carefully and frequently to ensure your pet is comfortable and healthy in their environment. Many species of reptiles don’t enjoy frequent handling, so they have a tendency to become a bore for kids and adults who are keen to have an interactive or affectionate pet. 

Furthermore, many reptile species can live for 20 years or longer, making them a long term commitment. Some turtles can live to be 100 years old! Certain reptiles can grow quite large over time and will require larger enclosures as they age. For some larger species of reptiles, these enclosures can sometimes cost upwards of $500.00. Finally, a number of reptiles eat things that people don’t always enjoy keeping around the house, such as live insects or rodents. And, like any other pet, reptiles should be seen regularly by a veterinarian to ensure they are healthy. This combination of food, enclosures, accessories, vet visits, and an impacted hydro bill can add up to quite a costly investment.

In addition to cats, dogs, and other furry and feathered pets, the OHS also receives reptiles that are brought to us as strays or owner surrenders. Although we don’t offer reptiles for adoption, we do work with community partners to find safe, appropriate placements for the reptiles we receive. As an animal welfare organization, we strive to educate the community about responsible reptile ownership in a variety of different ways.  One of the big highlights for campers during our “Off-Leash” day camp programs are visits from reptile rescue groups in Ottawa who help spread the message about the importance of reptile care and protection.

Our Rescue and Investigation Services team responds to calls and complaints each year regarding reptiles that are being kept as pets, many of which are not legal to own in Ottawa. Back in 2002, our officers removed over 250 exotic animals, many of which were reptiles, from a single townhouse here in Ottawa. Instances like these remind us of the importance of encouraging careful, informed decision making for anyone who is considering a reptile as a pet.

As part of National Reptile Awareness Day, we are encouraging anyone who is considering adding a reptile to their family to take the time to research the needs of these intricate species and ensure that owning a pet reptile is a commitment you and your family are ready to make.

We know there are many different reasons for seeking out a new pet for your household. To anyone who is considering a pet reptile, we encourage you to do your research to ensure you are making the best choice for your family. As you would with any other type of pet, you need to make sure you are fully aware of the commitment required to provide the right type of care to these fascinating, but delicate creatures.

Andrea Tatarski
Co-ordinator: Humane Education

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nasty, Brutish and Short

Today is National Feral Cat Day. I hope you will take a moment to think about these neglected felines.

In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes described the life of humans without government as "nasty, brutish, and short." It is also an apt description of the lives of feral cats.

A feral cat, defined by Alley Cat Allies is, "...a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or her contact with humans has diminished over time. She is fearful of people and survives on her own outdoors."

A feral cat is distinct from a stray cat, even if the cat has been stray for a long period of time, and from a "loosely-owned" or "porch" cat; a cat that is fed by one or more people in a neighbourhood who do not accept full responsibility for the cat's care. Stray and loosely-owned cats are or were once socialized to humans. They may be wary and skittish around humans if they have not a had recent or extensive human contact, but they are not fearful to the extent that feral cats are.
There are likely dozens of feral cat colonies in the Ottawa area.

Feral cats occupy a grey zone in the world of animal welfare. They are not wildlife per se. They are interlopers in our natural world and can cause considerable destruction in wild bird and mammal populations. They were introduced through human irresponsibility, and therefore are a human responsibility.

But they are not fully domestic pets either. They cannot just be rounded up and socialized. Kittens up to four months can be socialized, but adults will frequently injure themselves trying to escape when confined. Their panic in prolonged confinement is simply not humane.

Most progressive humane societies like the OHS practice "TNR" or "Trap, Neuter, Return" to address the needs of feral cats. Feral cats are removed from a colony, sterilized, vaccinated, and then returned to the colony. If newly introduced cats—new stray cats and the feral's kittens—are consistently removed, the colony will disappear over time. Studies indicate that simply removing all the members of a colony does not work. Nature, as they say, abhors a vacuum and other cats simply come to occupy the vacant colony, generally because of its proximity to shelter, food and water. The effectiveness of TNR was proven with the gradual elimination of the Parliament Hill Colony by some amazingly committed volunteers and the OHS a few years ago.

Like so many issues in animal welfare, controversies rage, and numbers of animals often exceed our resources to help. There are likely dozens of colonies in the Ottawa area, possibly many more. In fact, one of these controversies is how many feral cats there actually are in a given community. The OHS helps a handful of colony "caretakers" with surgical and other medical services, and we are very proud of our role in humanely eliminating the Parliament Hill colony, but our efforts are likely the proverbial drop in the bucket. Our best hope is education and promoting the kind of responsibility that would stop feral cats from coming into existence in the first place, through spaying and neutering cats and not letting them roam. And this takes time.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month at the Ottawa Humane Society

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and the Ottawa Humane Society is encouraging our community to celebrate all things canine. How can you participate?

Shelter dogs like Bentley found their perfect match in a forever
home - visit the OHS shelter and make a dog's happy ever after.

The OHS has many wonderful dogs who are just looking for the right match...could that be you? So many dogs end up at the shelter through no fault of their own. Changes in the family, a move, “no time”—and the dog ends up paying the price. Now, these wonderful canines are just waiting for the right, new family to say “we pick you.”

When you adopt a shelter dog, you’re not just giving a deserving dog a home, you’re adding to your family. So stop by the Ottawa Humane Society at 245 West Hunt Club this month, and let us help you find your perfect match.


Do you have a few hours a month to help homeless animals? Make Adopt a Shelter Dog Month the month you sign up to volunteer. Love dogs but can’t have one? Maybe our volunteer foster program is for you! Visit our volunteer page for available volunteer opportunities.


Make a donation today in honour of Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Help us make sure that each dog coming into our care has the best possible chance at a happy outcome.
  • $25 gives a dog or puppy food, water, blankies, and three walks a day for a year
  • $50 vaccinates a dog and gives them a health check
  • $100 helps rescue hurt and homeless dogs and also helps investigate animal cruelty and neglect
Or visit our Wish List to see the many dog supplies we need!


Help us get the word out that the best dog is a shelter dog.

  • Donate your Facebook status. Paste this message into the “What’s on your mind?” box at the top of your page: “October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Save a life: adopt a dog!” 
  • Tweet, retweet and repeat: “October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Save a life: adopt a dog!”
  • Share an OHS adoptable dog on your blog or Facebook page each day of the month.
  • Talk to friends, family, and especially those younger than you—about the role of humane societies, and why Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and shelter adoption in general, is important.
Sharon Miko
Deputy Executive Director

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Here Come the Pets in Black!

This month, the Pets in Black (PIB) team will be erasing all your preconceived notions about black animals, from unlucky onyx kitties to phantom pitch pooches.

These PIBs are the black animal reputation defenders. And contrary to the myths about black kitties and ghostly midnight hounds, they make great pets. With this month's adoption special, you'll forget all about your misconceptions about black animals.

When you adopt a black cat or dog from the Ottawa Humane Society this month, you’ll take home an adoption starter that will turn your vivid memories about black animals into fantasies.
Winnie is at the OHS waiting for her forever home.

For raven-furred cats, our take-home kit includes:
  • Litter box
  • Cat toy
  • Litter scoop
  • Food scoop
  • Treats
Black or mostly black dogs will be sent to their forever home with:
  • OHS poop bags
  • Food and water dishes
  • Kong squeeze ball
  • Food scoop
  • Treats
They walk in shadow but don’t fear them, cheer them, these Pets in Black — they really make great companions, just like their fairer counterparts!

Come meet your match at the OHS at 245 West Hunt Club Rd. this month and show some love to the PIBs.

For more information, please visit

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Building a More Compassionate Community and Brighter Future for Ottawa’s Animals

We believe it’s important to teach humane education in schools to teach animal care and welfare to our younger generation. By examining the relationship between humans and animals, students recognize that we share many of the same physical and emotional needs. Our school presentations teach kindness and respect while working to create a compassionate and humane society for animals.

The City of Ottawa has more than 250 schools with more than 100,000 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12. While we’ve continued to increase our reach into schools and the number of students that learn from our presentations each year, we’re still only reaching 33 per cent of schools and six per cent of students.
Students can now learn about puppy mills in one
of three new presentations being offered this year.

That’s about to change. You asked and we listened. Starting in the next few weeks, our presentations will all be available in French. Whether we’re teaching JK/SK and Grade 1 students about responsible pet care for cats and dogs or inspiring high school students to explore animal related careers — all will be available in French. This will help us to reach the 45 to 65 per cent of students taking all or part of their studies in French in Ottawa.

We’ve also introduced three new presentations this year:
  • Grade 4: Co-Existing with Urban Wildlife where students learn about wildlife conflicts as they relate to urban communities and habitat loss, and collaboratively resolve various conflict scenarios to explore how we can best ‘co-exist’ with urban wildlife in our community.
  • High School – Spoiling Our Appetites: An Introduction to Food Animal Welfare where students learn about the current plight of livestock/food animals in Canada, the regulations surrounding their care, as well as the importance of conscious consumerism and advocacy on this topic.
  • High School – Profit Puppies: Exploring Puppy Mills where students learn about the history and conditions of puppy mills, how the OHS is addressing this issue, as well as the importance of responsible animal adoption and advocacy on this topic.
Through our presentations, we let students of all ages know that they too can make a difference in their communities and the world around them by showing them the impact our short-term decision makes on the lives of Ottawa’s animals. By giving students the opportunity to learn about animal welfare, we are building a more compassionate community and brighter future for Ottawa’s animals.

For a complete list of presentations aligned with Ontario provincial curriculum expectations, please visit the Humane Education section of our website.

For more information or to book a presentation, please contact the co-ordinator: humane education at 613-725-3166 ext. 235 (English) or ext. 204 (French) or email

Lori Marcantonio
Director: Outreach

Thursday, September 18, 2014

National Farm Animal Awareness Week

“We wanted cheap food, and the market delivered – with ruthless efficiency. Past the point where the animals involved were treated like living, feeling beings.”1 

As an animal welfare organization, our focus is not to abolish the use of animals within our food industry, but rather to promote the humane treatment of these animals to ensure they experience an appropriate quality of life in an environment that provides the necessities for health, comfort, and natural behaviour. Following the five freedoms model, we believe that all animals are entitled to the following: 
Pigs are intelligent creatures who love to play and socialize
with each other. 
  1. Freedom from hunger or thirst 
  2. Freedom from discomfort 
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease 
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour 
  5. Freedom from fear and distress 

We strive to ensure that farm animals also receive treatment in accordance with the five freedoms, and we support the work of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) in advocating for humane practices in farm animal care. Seemingly, these five freedoms guidelines should be easy enough to implement within our farm industry. So, are they being implemented?

First, consider laying hens, whose natural behaviour includes foraging, perching, and seeking isolation for laying their eggs. These sentient birds are forced to spend their lives crammed together into tiny battery cages, each having less than the dimensions of one sheet of paper as living space. They experience injuries and amputations from being crushed or stomped on by other birds. Is this a five freedoms experience?

Secondly, consider female breeding pigs, often referred to as sows. They love to forage, have a natural home range of about 16 km², and are amongst the cleanest of livestock animals - they even designate a bathroom area within their living space. They are intelligent creatures who love to play and socialize with each other. These curious and interactive animals must spend their lives eating, sleeping, urinating, and defecating in tiny individual sow stalls, which provide barely enough room for a pig to stand up, and no opportunity to walk or even turn around. Is this an acceptable quality of life?

Finally, consider dairy cows, who spend time in select social groups, and nurse their calves and bond with them for months. Many of these sensitive creatures spend their lives in tie stalls, which do not permit them any social interaction with other cows, barely allow them to lay down or move freely in any way. Their calves can be removed from their company at only a day old. Is this humane?

For most of these animals, the only escape from these dreadful conditions is slaughter. When that time comes, some animals are so worn out that they can't even physically walk the transport ramps to their death as this is often the very first and only real exercise they ever experience.

As a humane society, we champion a five freedoms quality of life for all animals, but we know our strength comes from our community members. As part of National Farm Animal Awareness Week, we encourage you to take steps to help improve the welfare of food animals. Some actions you can take include joining the Meatless Mondays movement by incorporating more plant-based meals into your menu planning, visiting local farmers’ markets and practicing conscious consumerism at supermarkets by reading labels and buying from alternative producers that allow animals to experience a higher quality of life. Most importantly, you can speak out for farm animals and raise awareness in our community.

We can’t help but feel like, as a society, this issue is our responsibility to correct. We got what we asked forand for the sake of the animals, it’s time to start asking the farm industry for something else. 

Click here for more information about the Ottawa Humane Society’s position on food animals.

Andrea Tatarski
Co-ordinator: Humane Education

1 . Lange, Karen E. “Back to the Land” All Animals Magazine, July/August 2012. Page 17.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Microchipping: Your Pet’s Way of Saying Who They Are and Where They Live

Does your cat or dog have a microchip? Tiny and virtually painless to implant, this life-long form of identification may mean the difference between never seeing your lost pet again and having her returned safely to you.

Here are two stories from Ottawa Humane Society staff members who personally experienced the importance of microchipping a pet:

I Never Thought My Indoor Cat Would Get Outside!

By Meaghan Isaacs, OHS Communications Co-ordinator

A few weeks ago, I woke up to find my cat missing. Usually curled up at the foot of my bed, Smalls was nowhere to be found. I searched all his favourite spots in the apartment. When I saw the screen for the bathroom window pushed out, I grabbed a container of my cat's food and ran outside, shaking it and calling his name.
Indoor cats, even those who occasionally go outside on a harness,
don't have the skills or knowledge to thrive and survive outdoors.

Always an indoor cat, I worried how Smalls would fend for himself outside. Even with his ID tags, my feline escape artist could have easily wriggled free of his collar and lost that form of identification. I hoped that if I couldn't find him, a neighbour or passerby might see him and bring him to the OHS or a vet clinic to check if he had a microchip.

After 15 minutes of shaking his food and calling his name, Smalls ran out from his hiding spot in the backyard, trembling and meowing but safe and sound and found. I was lucky this time and my nerve-wracking experience really proved that the fifteen-minute appointment and $50 microchip fee is a small price to pay for your animal to be permanently linked to you if they ever find themselves lost.

Getting Mrs. Wiggles Home

By Sharon Miko, Deputy Executive Director

This past summer, a lost cat appeared in a neighbour’s backyard one sunny morning. The cat was very friendly and keen to go into the home of anyone who’d have her. We all watched her for a few days, thinking perhaps she was just an outdoor cat who knew her way home. But when she took up residence in someone’s screened gazebo, we realized she was likely lost.

One neighbour filed a lost report with the OHS and another spread the word through our neighbourhood’s email list. Another neighbour placed a notice on Kijiji and on the Ottawa Lost Pets website. Then my kids and I took the kitty to our local vet.
The fifteen-minute microchip appointment and $50 fee is a
small price to pay for a permanent link to your pet if they ever
find themselves lost.

The vet tech and I looked at each other, stunned, when the scanner beeped within two seconds of being placed near the cat. I felt like we’d just won a lottery! A phone call later, a young mum with a toddler and baby in tow arrived at our door to collect their beloved family member. It turned out that Mrs. Wiggles was 10 years old and had been missing for almost two months. She lived just two streets away!

This story has a happy ending but so many others don’t. A mere five per cent of the thousands of cats that arrive as strays at the OHS each year will be claimed by their owners; many don’t have the identification necessary to help find their way back home. A microchip helped Mrs. Wiggles get home. Without it, she may have never been returned to the loving arms of her family.

By the Numbers

From April 1 to Aug. 31, 24 lost cats and 55 lost dogs brought to the OHS were returned to their human companions because they had a microchip.
When you consider the total number of strays brought to the OHS during that same time period — 964 cats and 498 dogs — it’s clear that there is still work to be done when it comes to education on the importance of identifying pets with a microchip, said Sarah Oswald, manager: admissions and rehoming.
These stories have happy endings, but many cats and dogs
who come into the care of the OHS don't have the
identification to help them find their way back home.

“A microchip is an animal’s way of telling us who they are and where they live," Oswald said. “It's the best safety step that you can take to help your animal get home to you if they're ever lost.”

To find out about upcoming microchip clinics, please visit

Do you have a story to share about losing a pet or having one returned because of a microchip? Please share it on the OHS Facebook page at

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back to School Goes to the Dogs at the Ottawa Humane Society With a Special Deal for Canine Scholars

Jake (A170794) is one of the featured dogs this month.
September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month and part of being a good pet parent is setting up your newly adopted dog for success. There’s no better way to start the school year off on the right paw than by teaching an Ottawa Humane Society dog some new tricks with obedience training.

Adopt a canine companion this month and sign up your furry pupil for some higher learning with an OHS obedience class for just $99. Adopt one of the four featured dogs and get 50 per cent off the cost of training — that’s a $70 savings on tuition! Information on the featured dogs is available at the OHS Adoption Centre at 245 West Hunt Club Rd. This deal is available while supplies last.

Dog obedience helps strengthen the bond between dogs and their owners. Not only do dogs learn how to be good canine citizens, but the sessions are also a valuable experience for new owners who learn how to help their new friend be the best dog possible.

While you’re at the OHS, check out the Buddy and Belle Boutique for some special prices on select dog gear, such as Kong and Chuck It toys.

Natalie Pona
Manager: Communications

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Walkers are the Tops!

Several weeks ago, at the media launch for our upcoming Wiggle Waggle Walkathon and Run for the Animals, I had the great pleasure to meet an unassuming young woman named Lydia Gagnon.

Lydia is very pleasant, a little shy, but very special to the Ottawa Humane Society and the animals in our care. You see, for three years running, Lydia and her team, F.I.D.O. (Fun Independent Dog Owners) have been the top walkers in our walkathon. In fact, over the past seven years, the group has raised an astounding $19,516 and counting!
Lydia Gagnon and her team, F.I.D.O., work all year collecting
pledges to help the animals.

The walkathon is our biggest and most popular event of the year. Just seeing all the hundreds of dogs together, all shapes, sizes and breeds, is a sight to behold. Many come just to see the spectacle. Of course, the walkathon is a fundraiser—an essential one to help the OHS help the more than 10,000 animals that need our help every year. Having so many people come out is great, but they need to come with pledges in order to make a difference for the animals.

That's where Lydia and her team come into this story. They work all year to collect pledges. They hold small events to raise funds. Helping the animals is a year-round activity for them and the results show in their individual and team totals and in the happy outcomes for the animals.

Thank you Lydia; thank you team F.I.D.O. You are an inspiration. And thank you to all of you who have set up teams, donation pages, and have begun to collect gifts from your friends and family. The animals need you and you are there for them.

See you on September 7!

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Psst! You May Not Have Heard...

We have been telling anyone who will listen for the past few years that our Pre-Authorized Withdrawal (PAW) program is the best way for you to help the animals. Nothing has changed. PAW remains a secure and easily managed way to help the more than 10,000 animals that need the OHS—and you— every single year. The costs with PAW are low, so a far larger percentage of your gift goes to the animals than with other ways of supporting the OHS.

I know PAW may not be the way that you want to help the animals right now. I expect you know that making a one-time gift online or by mail is the second best way to help the animals. I expect you know about the Wiggle Waggle Walkathon and the Run for the Animals, the FurBall and the Summer Harvest Garden Party and would participate if any were the right way for you to support the animals.
But there are a few ways to help the animals that you may not know about. Maybe some of these are right for you?

United Way
Did you know that you can direct part or all of your United Way gift to animals in need? It's simple! All you need is the OHS charitable number when you complete your pledge form. More information about United Way directed gifts can be found at:

My Event
Raising funds is so easy with My Event. Available on the OHS website, the feature allows you to send emails to your friends, family and other contacts to ask them to support you in raising funds. Gifts are processed at the OHS and receipts sent to you or your donor friend auto-magically by the OHS server! Some very special people have used My Event to solicit gifts to the animals in lieu of wedding or birthday gifts, or have asked to be sponsored in a run or other challenge. My Events is at:

Pet Tributes
Knowing your gift will help thousands of other pets can be
a consolation when someone loses a beloved animal companion.

Pets are now very much a part of our families and their loss can be as devastating. When someone close to you loses a beloved pet, knowing that you are thinking of them, and that your gift will help thousands of other pets, can be a consolation. Some people have told me that raising funds in memory of their own lost pet to help so many was a healing project. It's easy. Our staff will send an e-note or paper note as you wish. All tributes can be accessed at:

Ottawa Humane Society BMO MasterCard
Our newly launched BMO OHS MasterCard is a simple way to rescue animals as you shop. A percentage of your spending will go to the animals as a part of our affinity agreement with BMO and this new card. You can even use it for your next online gift to the animals! More information about the new OHS BMO MasterCard can be found at:

These are just a few of the ways that you can save lives and help the Ottawa Humane Society care for more than 10,000 animals that need our help and have nowhere else to go.

If you have already tried one of these great, but lesser known ways to help the animals, I would like to hear your experience. Please write me at

Thank you for all you do for Ottawa's animals!

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Sunday, August 17, 2014

In Praise of Black Cats

I have had a lot of cats in my life. Growing up on a farm, many of them were "working cats, "there to keep the rodent population in check. And of course, as is the case with many farms, cats were dumped at the end of our long laneway by city-dwellers who no longer wanted their pet or their pet's offspring.

Though I was very attached to some of the working cats, the relationship could not be the same as with an indoor cat, and it was only in my 20s that I lived with indoor cats.

My favourite, by far, was a tom named Butch. I didn't name him. Butch was the greatest cat ever. I have to confess that I like cats that act a bit more like dogs: ones that greet you at the door when you come home, are always up for a game or a cuddle and frankly, just seem to like me. Butch was this and more. And he was pure jet black.
Me circa 1985 with the greatest cat ever—
who happens to be black. 

It surprises me that black cats are not more popular today. The old myths about black cats are no longer a part of our culture. I would have thought that any long-passed occult association would be a plus today with the popularity of Harry Potter and the many other witch/wizard/vampire franchises. I would have thought black cats would be cool.

It seems to me that black cats are more feline—black highlighting a sinewy elegance that so many people admire. Like a panther. Only a lot smaller.

Here at the OHS, by the end of the summer, with so many cats admitted, cared for, and transferred to adoptions, invariably the number and percentage of black cats rises, as their white, tabby, tuxedo and other cat friends are adopted, while the black ones remain waiting for someone to fall in love with them.

I hate to think that the next greatest cat ever might be overlooked, just because of the colour of his fur.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Helping “Hard to Place” Dogs

Trudy is what shelters call a “hard to place” dog. She has been at the OHS for over three months now. Trudy is often overlooked by hopeful new families because of her rather large size and dark colouring. Those that do take a closer look often shy away when they meet her and experience first-hand her very boisterous and vocal nature; others simply aren't a good match for a dog that really isn't a dog park kind of girl (marketing lingo for “does not like other dogs”). And have we mentioned that Trudy likes cats…a little too much?

Size and colour issues are no match for our eager Adoption team. Gentlemen will no longer prefer blondes by the time our staff have mounted their marketing efforts. But while a slick salesperson may try to convince you that an ill-fitting garment really does flatter your figure, the stakes are simply too high for dogs like Trudy for us to value placing her quickly over finding a permanent, loving home that can meet her needs. It just may take awhile.

Trudy has been at the OHS for over three months and is often
overlooked because of her large size and dark colouring.
Leading animal welfare organizations predict that it will not be long before the supply of puppies, small dogs and adorable, healthy young pets are a very small fraction of homeless pet populations. Many shelters are already experiencing this; some cater to their communities’ desires for such pets by importing highly adoptable pups from neighbouring cities or countries.
Trudy does still have her age—and her good health—working in her favour. Many dogs are harder to place because they’re a little long in the tooth or suffer from a chronic but highly manageable health condition. Do they not still deserve a second chance? Should we not be devoting more resources to helping more dogs like Trudy find homes—or to helping dogs with even more challenges than Trudy become adoptable in the first place, rather than “brokering” pups from afar?

We think so. And thanks to you, we can do more every day. And so, while Trudy waits for her new family to come forward, we’re helping things along by ensuring that she receives enrichment to keep her relaxed in the shelter environment and training to help her develop good habits, so that she’s ready to put her best paw forward when that family does appear, no matter how long that takes.

Of course, the OHS will always be a strong partner in the animal welfare community, and when we do have resources to help another community in need, we have helped and will continue to help more animals to find homes through our shelter.

Sharon Miko
Deputy Executive Director

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Discover the Kitties Behind the Label: Adopt a Special Needs Cat in August and Get a Free Vet Visit!

Could Jake be the right match for you? 
Do you have a family member with a heart murmur? How about a friend with a gluten allergy? Just like their human companions, our animal friends may have health or behavioural challenges that may need a little extra TLC. And, just like you and me, these unique characteristics shouldn’t stop these pets from living a happy life surrounded by the love of a forever family.

This August, get to know the cats behind the “special needs” label. This month, adopt a cat or kitten with special needs and your new best friend’s initial vet visit is free. This $85 value is to encourage potential forever families to see the felines behind the label, like Jake, a catnip-crazy kitty who loves to play with laser lights and gets along with dogs. Sure, he has some tummy troubles — but they don’t define him.

The OHS special needs adoptions program helps older animals and pets with often easily manageable conditions get a second chance at finding a forever home. Conditions may include food allergies needing a special diet, thyroid conditions requiring regular, though inexpensive, medication, or heart murmurs that probably need nothing more than annual monitoring.

All pets need to visit the vet to stay healthy, not just those with special needs. But some people see the words “special needs” and move on to the next cat, passing by wonderful pets like Jake without a second look, without taking the time to learn about the kitty behind the label. 

Meet Jake and other special needs cats at the OHS Adoption Centre at 245 West Hunt Club Rd. or visit the website at for more information. Visit the OHS to consult with adoption staff about whether a special needs pet is right for you.  

Natalie Pona
Communications Manager 

Friday, August 1, 2014

OHS Summer Harvest Garden Party is the Foodie Event of the Summer

This year's Summer Harvest Garden Party is just around the corner.

The event, in honour of the late Chef Kurt Waldele (pictured above), who 
hosted the event for many years, is the most delicious way to help the animals.

Ottawa's chefs go all out to make the event memorable.

Mark Sunday August 10 on your calendar. You won't want to
 miss this culinary adventure.

Tickets are only $125 and are selling fast.

This year's party will be in the beautiful Jean Pigott Place at Ottawa's City Hall.

It will be a foodie paradise.

 Let's not forget the wine.

For more information and to get your tickets, please visit the Summer Harvest Garden Party on the OHS website

Bruce Roney
OHS Executive Director 

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