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

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