Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

In this coming year, I hope the same thing for you and for me: that we make mistakes. Because if we are making mistakes, we are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing ourselves, changing ourselves. Changing the world.

Happy New Year!

Bruce Roney
Executive Director
With thanks to Neil Gaiman

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The world is getting better. It's just that no one believes it.

I was listening to CBC on my way somewhere on the weekend. They were airing the Munk Debates. The topic was this: "Be it resolved humankind’s best days lie ahead." It was fascinating; especially the comments of a very distinguished scholar named Matt Ridley.

Professor Ridley pointed out that we live longer, are healthier, richer, safer, less warlike than any time before in human history. He wasn't talking about Canada, or even the West; he was talking about the whole world. It doesn't feel like it, though, does it? But it's true. (Well, my Google search says it's true. And it wasn't challenged during the debate.) We don't tend to think the world is getting better, particularly as we get older, apparently. As we age, we all tend to look back on a better imaginary past that didn't exist, according to Prof. Ridley. 

Then he pointed out a second fact that was disturbing. When people are polled about how bad the world is, those who think it is bad and getting worse tend to also respond that this means they should hunker down and think only of themselves. But the world hasn't gotten worse, it's gotten better, but mostly only the young believe it. Yikes. 

Do you think it might work in reverse? That is, if we became more optimistic and saw the world as a better place, would we be more concerned about others? It feels true, and I see it every day at the Ottawa Humane Society. Optimism works. I see second chances in the face of hopelessness, the relief of suffering in the face of pain and the building of a compassionate and hopeful next generation. And from it, I see touching generosity and wholehearted commitment from our staff, our volunteers and our supporters. 

Merry Christmas everyone.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Monday, December 14, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

What’s Next? Constant Improvement in Animal Sheltering

A new program introduced this year provides in-house respite
to stressed shelter cats. Next up? Cat clicker training to promote
adoptability...stay tuned!
As the year draws to a close, we look back, as always, on how we’ve done this year to help more of the animals that come into our care. Did we adopt out more dogs with special needs? Reunite more lost cats with their owners? Do more to meet the medical needs of sick and injured animals? Rescue more animals in distress?

It has been a good year. We have, I’m happy to report, been successful because we have a great team that is committed to constantly improving. From new daily care checklists to new behaviour intervention programs, best practices in animal sheltering are evolving rapidly. And while it is certainly challenging to keep up with it all, it’s too important not to. 

Our commitment to constant improvement has yielded some fantastic gains. Thanks to our new process tracking system, we have found ways to ensure 10,000 animals move through the shelter much more quickly. With these strategies, fewer animals are waiting for the next step in their care. The faster the animals move, the less likely they become stressed and become sick as a result. High volume, high quality spay/neuter surgery blocks are becoming more common as we increase training for veterinary technical staff. An improved adoption process has resulted in more transparent and more efficient adoptions. Most recently, improvements in our investigations processes, along with greater collaboration with Crown prosecutors, are anticipated to strengthen results in animal cruelty cases. 

We are excited about the results that have come out of the past year. We’re committed to building on what we have achieved and continuing to improve over the year ahead. In each area of animal care, we are already developing our plans to do even more next year. Knowing that we have the support of our community behind us, there is no end to what we can achieve for the animals.

Sharon Miko
OHS Deputy Director 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Faith, Hope and Charity

An OHS supporter asked me recently if I was worried about the Syrian refugee crisis. I was puzzled for a moment, before I realized that she was talking about fundraising. She wanted to know if I was worried that the attention on the desperate plight of the thousands fleeing the terror in their homeland might negatively affect our efforts to raise funds to care for the animals at this all-important time of the year. As you probably know, like retailers, if charities don't raise money at Christmas they are in big trouble. 

I thought for a moment, and responded that I was not, "I have faith in our community and in you."
Afterward, in a sleepless moment, I wondered if I was too quick to respond. Should I be concerned?

After all, it's my job to be concerned about things that may threaten the rescue and care of animals and their future. If I'm not concerned, am I right not to be? Did I really mean what I said?

As I pondered, I realized that I really did mean it. I meant it because I truly believe that love, generosity, and hope are not finite, they are limitless. Caring deeply about one plight does not diminish our feelings for another, in fact, often the exact opposite is true. Caring is addictive. And when you open your heart, you never know just who or what will get in. 

So, I'm not worried. I have faith in our community and in you. 

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Back is the New Black: Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday at the OHS

For the past decade or so, like most Canadians, I have been watching the U.S. media reports on the Friday after their Thanksgiving — Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year — with some astonishment. The worst elements of it are what sticks in my mind: the crowds, the line-ups, the people crushed, all to save a few bucks. (Ok, maybe it's to save  for a lot of bucks, but still.)  Like many Canadians, I tend to adopt that vaguely superior attitude at the sight that I usually reserve for bad reality television. It all seems so un-Canadian.

As is typical, this cultural phenomenon has seeped northward and is becoming entrenched in Canada, along with its younger cousin, Cyber Monday, the day the deals move to online-shopping.

Partly obscured by all the hype is a third day: Giving Tuesday. Created in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to the consumerism of the first two, for me Giving Tuesday is the antithesis and the antidote. This is an idea I like. Any reminder of our obligation to our community and the betterment of our world is a good thing. Moreover, if the shopping can also help build a community, then all the better.

In that spirit, the OHS is launching Giving Back is the New Black encompassing all three days. On Black Friday, you can shop at our own Buddy and Belle Boutique, find some great deals, and know that our only shareholders are the animals. On Cyber Monday, you can order some great programs online, or arrange for some fantastic gift baskets for the pet members of your family. And on Giving Tuesday, you can give the gift of a second chance to a homeless, injured or abused animal, knowing that your gift will be doubled by one of our most committed donors.

If it helps the animals, maybe we all both learn to like all the hype after all.

Bruce Roney

Executive Director 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Friends Indeed

You've got to have friends, the song goes. And at the OHS, we are lucky to have so many good friends. There is simply no way that we could care for the more than 10,000 animals that need us every year without our friends: amazing volunteers, community-minded veterinarians, donors committed to the animals and so many more. In fact, thousands of friends help make the OHS work for the animals and for our community. 

One group of friends we don't talk about a lot are our Pet Adoption Location (PAL) partners. Growing from only two locations two decades ago, the PAL program now adopts more animals than the West Hunt Club shelter through 26 locations!

Our PAL partners do the animals a tremendous service. The retail locations generally have hours longer than our own Adoption Centre and the multiple locations mean that there is one or more in almost every part of the city. During the warmer months, when 40 or more animals may come into our care every single day, PAL dramatically expands our capacity to care for and rehome this huge number of pets. Most PAL locations provide all of the feeding and care, saving the OHS a lot of time, effort and money. And speaking of money, the PALs don't take a commission, so all the adoption fees all come back to the OHS to help more animals. 

Recently, we were approached by a veterinary clinic that wanted to become part of the PAL program. They would adopt cats directly from their clinic, and by the way, throw in any medical interventions that the cat might need before adoption. Brilliant! I wish I had thought of it. Now there are three veterinary PALs. 

I hope you will check out our list of PAL locations and shop with our friends. And when you are there, thank them for being such a good friend to the animals. 

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What We Do For Kids

International Humane Education icon Zoe Weil bases much of her efforts on her belief that “the world becomes what we teach,” and we agree. The OHS is committed to helping animals today, but we know that, to create real change for animals in our community, we can’t stop there. We need to work now to help the animals of tomorrow, too. But how?

A key component in achieving long-term change in animal welfare is one which is key in achieving change in virtually any issue: we have to reach, inspire, and empower…children. Children are the next generation – of politicians, of parents, and of pet owners. They will base their decisions and their actions on the knowledge and experiences they acquire throughout their lives. So we are working hard today to ensure we have a positive impact on the lives and futures of both kids and animals in Ottawa. Here’s how:

  • Our Humane Education School Program visits classrooms Grades 1-12 across our city to provide lessons on animal safety, care, and welfare. We work with students and teachers to support class and group projects advocating for animals through creative, student-initiated activities and campaigns.
  • Our on-site Field Trip Program invites Grade 2 classes to visit our shelter to enjoy hands-on learning experiences with animals through curriculum-based lessons and activities.
  • Our popular Camp programs provide active learning for children during PD days, March Break, and through the summer months, allowing children to gain in-depth understandings of many different animal topics including safety, humane handling, and animal needs through fun hands-on activities.
  • Our youth Animal Advocate Program is a go-to event for young animal lovers who are interested in learning more about animal welfare topics and careers through direct contact with animals and knowledgeable staff at our shelter.
  • Our OHS Birthday Parties combine fun and celebration with animals and humane education for kids. While celebrating with friends, children learn about our shelter and visit with many of our adoptable animals.
  • Our seasonal Family Events invite kids and their parents to visit the OHS and partake in a variety of fun activities while meeting animals and visiting with our shelter staff and volunteers.
  • Our website provides fun learning opportunities for kids at home or in school through our informative pages on animal care, our activity pages, and our “Ask Buddy & Belle” link for kids to have their animal-related questions answered.
Combined, our efforts are reaching tens of thousands of children in Ottawa each year. Our goals are to create positive, meaningful experiences that impart knowledge, empathy, and essential character development onto every child we meet and teach. In the next generation, we are creating the future voice for animals. We are shaping what our world – their world – will become. 

Andrea Tatarski
Coordinator: Humane Education

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Their Bags are Packed and They’re Ready to Go…Well, Most of Them

Patty McLaughlin with Wild Bird Care Centre mascot,
Violet the Turkey Vulture, and Indigo, the American Kestrel
The Ottawa Humane Society works in partnership with many community organizations to help the animals. The following is a guest post from the Wild Bird Care Centre.  

Hello from the Wild Bird Care Centre, Ottawa’s only organization dedicated to the care, treatment and rehabilitation of injured or orphaned wild birds. Each year, the centre receives more than 2,400 wild birds from the Ottawa area. 

You may have noticed that the birds are super busy at this time of the year. Either they’re building a flock to travel south or, they are busy growing an extra coat of down feathers and searching for high fat food sources for the cold months ahead. As our winters here in Ottawa are quite cold and sometimes downright unforgiving, the majority of our summer birds have the common sense to head south! The trip is not easy but with the amount of snow we get here, there just isn’t enough food for them to survive otherwise. 

For birds who brave the Ottawa winter, many depend on our feeders as a major food source. Here are some tips and facts to make the most of your feeders:
  • The best thing to offer the birds is high fat seeds, such as black oiled sunflower seeds and peanuts. 
  • Did you know that the Black-capped Chickadee caches extra seeds in small crevices and can remember where they put ALL of them for over a month?!
  • Many small finches also stay throughout the winter and enjoy eating the very small nyjer seed. If you have trouble with unfavorable feeder guests, such as squirrels, consider putting up a nyjer feeder. The design of these feeders only allows a very small beak to grab the seeds and they are not very appealing to squirrels.
  • Once the weather drops below freezing, you can also put out suet feeders and you will likely be quickly rewarded by seeing several of our local woodpecker and nuthatch species.
  • Just as we suffer from more colds and flu in the winter time, so do the birds. It is important to occasionally wash those sick bird germs off your feeder with a 10-parts water to one-part bleach solution.
Many of the injured birds that come into the centre during the fall months have suffered injuries from hitting windows. Most small songbirds migrate at night to reduce their risk of predation and overheating. Large office buildings that keep their lights on during the night disorient the birds causing them to hit the windows. Window strikes during the day are usually due to the sun reflecting images, such as trees, on the outside of the window. Any mitigation measures to prevent window impacts, such as decals, must be placed on the outside of the window for them to be effective.

There is now an organization in Ottawa patrolling some of the known problem buildings for window strikes. For more information about how to prevent birds from hitting your windows visit, as they have many great ideas. 

If you have found a bird that has possibly hit a window or is otherwise injured, toss a small towel over the bird to pick it up and place the bird in a small dark box lined with an old rag or towel. Tossing a towel over the bird will often calm it down. Allow the bird to rest for an hour and then bring the box outside for a release attempt. If the release fails, please bring the bird to the Wild Bird Care Centre for further treatment. The Wild Bird Care Centre is located at 734 Moodie Dr. and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. We also have drop-off crates on the front porch for after hours drop-offs. 

COME AND VISIT US!  Do you want to get an up close look at some of our local birds? The centre has visiting hours from noon to 3 p.m. daily, where you are welcome to do a self-guided walk through of the centre and see the birds through the viewing windows. There is no cost to visit the centre, however, donations are always greatly appreciated. The trails around the centre are easy to walk and are filled with chickadees eager to come down to your hand for some sunflower seeds!
For more information about the centre please visit

Patty McLaughlin, Education Coordinator
Wild Bird Care Centre

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pets are the Best Medicine

Whether it’s studies on heart disease, stroke, immunity, allergies, depression, or anxiety, there is an common finding showing up in more and more medical research these days: It helps to have a pet. You don’t have to look hard to find a new report on the positive impacts of pets on our physical and mental health. Indeed, caring for a pet has been linked to everything from physical health to happiness to longevity. The rationale, though, is simpler than you may think. Properly caring for a pet provides us with three key components of a long and healthy life: exercise, purpose, and companionship. 

We all know it: Exercise every day keeps the doctor away. Whether it’s taking Fido for a hike or batting cat nip toys back and forth on the floor with Fluffy, pets get us off the couch and moving, without having to pack a bag for the gym or subscribe to the newest costly at-home fitness program. Our commitment to caring for our pet’s physical needs doubles as caring for our own.

Caring for a pet also provides a sense of purpose and a structure to our daily routine. The thought of heading to work may not make you want to get out of bed in the morning, but knowing a furry companion is waiting for you to start her day with – to feed, walk, play with and snuggle before you launch into other responsibilities – may be just what it takes to motivate you to start your day. Caring for a pet has been proven to result in adults – including the elderly – caring better for themselves on a daily basis. 

And, pets can be the perfect cure for loneliness – in more ways than one. Pets provide us with their unmatched unconditional love and loyalty; they become our someone to wake up with, come home to, and talk to every day. However, owning a pet can also be the best way to boost our social interaction with people. Pets are great conversation starters and easy ice breakers: taking your pet to the park or to obedience classes can be a great way to meet people and make new friends … or more! 

So, whether you’re looking to get fit, prevent health problems in the future, or simply find a date for Saturday, you may not need to look any further than the loyal furball curled up at your feet. Or, if you don’t have a pet at home, maybe it’s time to skip the pharmacy and head to your local humane society – your perfect match (and cure) may be waiting for you.

For details on the specific health benefits of pets, check out these reports:

Andrea Tatarski
Coordinator: Humane Education

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Is a Small Animal the Pet for You?

Phoenix, one of the many small animals waiting
for her forever home at the OHS
When thinking of the Ottawa Humane Society, most people will say that visions of cats, kittens, puppies and dogs come to mind. But what if you are looking to add a small animal to your family? Where would you go? 

Well, look no further than those you trust to help you find your feline and canine companions. What most people don’t realize is that the OHS always has a large variety of small animals that can include budgies, finches, cockatiels, lovebirds, doves, parrotlets, gerbils, mice, hamsters, degus, chinchillas, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits and more. 

Meet Phoenix (A176837), for example, a beautiful three year old Netherland Dwarf rabbit. Since she arrived at the OHS in January 2015, Phoenix has waited very patiently for almost a year while watching a lot of her bunny friends find their forever homes. This independent lady will amuse you with how she likes to keep order in her bunny kingdom. She also loves to spend a lot of time outside of her cage having grand adventures. While she doesn’t enjoy being handled that much, she will always let you know when she needs attention by resting her chin on you or pawing at your leg.

Most often thought of as starter pets, small animals actually require the same level of commitment, enrichment, interaction and vet care as their feline and canine counterparts. Many small animals can also be trained to learn tricks, use a litter box and walk on a leash, among other things. 

What they lack in size, they more than make up for in love and companionship and you will quickly find yourself under their spell as you play with them and discover their personalities. If you have been hoping to add a little bundle of love to your family, come by the Adoption Centre to meet a wide variety of small animals like Phoenix and find that perfect match for your family.

Sarah Oswald
Manager: Admissions and Rehoming

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Legacy Gifts: The Gift of a Lifetime

What is a legacy gift? Once called "planned gifts," simply, these gifts are made by committed individuals upon their deaths.

For most of us, a legacy gift is the culmination of a lifetime commitment to a cause, often the biggest gift we ever make to work that we support and believe in. A handful are made through life insurance, and there are a variety of models that can save taxes to an estate or during a lifetime, but at least at the OHS, almost all are made through wills.

What does the OHS do with legacy gifts? Well, first, we don't spend them in the current year. They are placed in a fund separate from our operating fund. Some humane societies I know just add legacies to their revenue in the current year. Of course, it is their right. But spending legacies when they come is financially risky as they are an inherently unpredictable source of revenue. And frankly it feels slightly disrespectful to me. While donors can specify how their bequest can be spent, almost none do. I feel in my heart that legacy donors hope their gift will be used for something special, something lasting.

The OHS uses its legacy fund for a variety of purposes. Legacy gifts helped to build our shelter. They have purchased major equipment, like x-ray machines, and the vehicles we use to rescue animals in distress. They have funded pilot projects that grew to permanent programs that are now saving lives. They provide security for the animals for rough times. While other gifts are about today, legacy gifts are often about tomorrow.

We understand that your legacy gift is not like others. It represents the work of a lifetime and we take it very seriously.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wiggle Waggle Walkathon 2015: Not a Washout

The weather over the past few days has been incredible—sunny, warm, but not too hot. I keep thinking that every one of them would have been perfect days for the Wiggle Waggle Walkathon. What are the odds—the one sustained rain all year happened on walkathon weekend? Moreover, that the expected lightning storm would hit hours earlier than forecast?  

In my 15 walkathons, I have been amazed that the weather has cooperated so well. There were a couple of overly warm years, a couple of uncomfortably cool ones, and a few with intermittent drizzle but none so bad that we had to cancel and evacuate. Rain is one thing, but once the lightning started, metal tent poles made the site dangerous, and terrified some of the dogs. 

Some people have asked me why there was no rain date. I wish we could have had one. But, there are many reasons why a rain date simply isn't realistic. The park has to be booked well in advance—as long as a year—and the logistics of pulling together 300 or so volunteers on the day, rebooking dozens of already heavily booked vendors and exhibitors, rebooking tents and equipment, etc. all make a rain date impractical, if not impossible.  

I felt badly for the everyone who worked all year to make the event a spectacular success: the volunteers and staff who braved the storm on the day, and of course the tremendously committed walkers who weren't going to let the animals down and showed up despite the weather. Everyone got drenched but I heard no complaints. Amazing. 

So where does the evacuation leave the OHS and the animals? Well, we started with a pretty big funding gap. How big? We were looking forward to raising over $250,000. Luckily, over half the money came in online before the event even started and so the gap on Sunday was not the full amount. But at  more than $100,000, the gap was still a big hit to the OHS, our programs, and ultimately, the animals. 

Since then, OHS staff and volunteers threw together a very nice party last Friday for prize winners to collect their prizes and be recognized. We wanted to thank everyone who came out. More pledge money has been trickling in and to date, a number of donors have come forward to help close the gap.  The thermometer on our emergency page is creeping up as many in our community recognize the need to make up the funds for the animals, and now the gap is a little over $50,000.  

But then, terrific news came in over the weekend! One of our most generous donors approached us with a proposal. He wanted to help us close that gap and encourage everyone to help. He would make a gift and ask others to match it. Until this Sunday, he will match your gift dollar for dollar, up to $25,000. So, spread the word. You can help the animals. You can double your impact with this donor's help. You can close the gap and ensure that this year's walk isn't a washout for the animals.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Friday, September 4, 2015

Interviews With Guinness: Chief Bordeleau

The Science Diet® Wiggle Waggle Walkathon and
Run for the Animals Spokesdog Guinness
Guinness sat down with Chief Bordeleau, Ottawa Police Services Chief of Police and the Science Diet® Wiggle Waggle Walkathon honorary chair, to see why being involved with the Walk is so important to him!

Guinness: Thank you Chief Bordeleau for sitting with me today. To begin, why is the 2015 Science Diet Wiggle Waggle Walkathon important to you?

Chief Bordeleau: Because of the programs the OHS runs within the Ottawa community. The OHS and the OPS have a strong partnership in supporting our community through its LEAD and youth program. The OHS LEAD program directly assists youth at risk. This dog-training initiative promotes the animal-human bond while encouraging youth participants to develop personal responsibility, empathy, self-esteem and compassion towards all living beings.

Chief Bordeleau
Guinness: Do you have/have had any animal companions before?

Chief Bordeleau:  I had a dog as a teenager – a “Spoodle’ names Spunky. We now have a Miniature Schnauzer – Pepper.

Guinness: Where is your favorite place in Ottawa to walk?

Chief Bordeleau: Conroy Pit – steps away from our home.

Guinness: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Chief Bordeleau. Woof!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why obedience training?

Though now a happy cat owner, dogs have been a part of most of my life. And despite my rediscovered love of cats, I will always have a soft spot for dogs. After all, they are loyal, unconditionally affectionate, playfully exuberant and have a zest for life. We have to remember though, that dogs and we primates are very different animals. Though lovable, dogs have some tendencies —like jumping up to greet you, barking, and digging—that can make it difficult to live with them. To grow your your relationship with your dog, it is very important to teach her some important skills that will help her live harmoniously in a human household.

It is easy to get all kinds of advice about training your dog. Some people will tell you that the key is to use a “firm hand” to make sure your dog doesn’t think she can get away with naughty behavior. The OHS and most experts argue that you should only use rewards in dog training and not punish your dog in any way. You should reward behaviour you like and makes sure you are not rewarding the behaviours you don't like.

The "how" advice is everywhere. What about the why? 

The American Dog Trainers Network (ADTN)  remind us that obedience training is one of the most important aspects of raising a dog. Their website sums it up beautifully: 

A well trained dog is by far a happier dog! Why? Because a trained dog requires fewer restrictions. The more reliable the dog, the more freedom he is given. For example, many stores and businesses that normally won't allow dogs on their premises will make an exception for a puppy or a dog that will heel nicely by his owner's side, or will do a sit-stay or down-stay without hesitation.

And when company arrives in your home, there's no need to banish a well-behaved dog to another room for fear that he will be a royal nuisance. Moreover, because a well-mannered, obedience-trained dog is both appreciated and welcome, he receives more attention and interaction from family members, visitors, and passers-by, than does the ill-mannered dog.

Training serves to strengthen the bond between a dog and his owner. It builds communication, understanding, and mutual respect.

The ADTN reminds us that training may save your dog's life:

Obedience training also gives the dog owner the voice control necessary to prevent numerous potential tragedies. For instance, should a dog slip out of his collar in the middle of a congested traffic intersection, he can be safely heeled across the street, then given a sit command to facilitate putting his collar back on. Or should someone accidentally leave the front door open, and you spot your dog leaving, he can be safely called back to you using the recall command.

Not only will obedience training help your dog to become more responsive, but because it enables you to have immediate control over your dog's behavior, in an emergency situation obedience training may save your dog's life. In fact, it can ultimately save the lives of many dogs, because far fewer dogs would end up in animal shelters if their owners would simply take the time to train them.

The consequences of misbehavior are many:

Without proper training, many dogs are likely to misbehave. And when owners allow their dogs to misbehave, everyone suffers: The owner, because he or she lives with a dog, the dog, because everyone's down on him for misbehaving; the dog's owner's neighbors, because living next to a difficult dog is no one's idea of fun; and ultimately every dog owner, because each incidence where a dog creates a nuisance increases anti-dog sentiment, and contributes to the likelihood that tough legal restrictions will be placed on all dogs.

A well-behaved, obedience trained dog is a pleasure to own because he can go virtually anywhere without being a risk or nuisance to others. And don't we all want a dog who exhibits appropriate behavior in a crowd, good manners when we have guests in our home, is reliable around children, and who doesn't threaten other dogs or passers-by?

The bottom line is that dog obedience training truly benefits everyone.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

With thanks to the American Dog Trainers Network

Thursday, August 27, 2015

You wouldn't let it happen to a backpack

My friends and colleagues with young children tell me they are busy sewing or ironing name tags into their children's jackets, gym shorts, backpacks and the like in preparation for the upcoming return to school. This year, as always, they hope that these things won’t go missing during the academic year (it was often the first week, as I recall). If they were to go missing, parents hope that the items can be easily retrieved from the lost and found box or that someone will return them to their child. Parents hope this; and sometimes it happens. If it doesn't, usually it's not that big a deal. Most children's jackets and gym shorts are pretty inexpensive. Few have sentimental value.

Here at the OHS, last year alone, we cared for more than 5,000 lost pets. Sixty one per cent of dogs were reunited with their families but only six and a half per cent of cats. Many of the cats were clearly indoor cats. Very few dogs or cats had any form of identification whatsoever. Had these family members been microchipped, the OHS could have sent them all home—every last beloved pet. 

Just ask Nadja, who was reunited with her beloved cat Boo here at the OHS last December. Boo (a Siamese!)  went missing in late November. Because Boo was microchipped, he was back in Nadja's arms for Christmas—just hours after he was brought here by a Good Samaritan.

Won't you make the same effort for your pet that you make for your child's backpack? A microchip implant is a permanent ticket home for your best friend. 

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Different Breed of Walk

I know there are a lot of walks out there. The summer is crammed full of them. There are so many important causes. I have participated in some. The best part for me was being with other people that shared the same commitment to a common cause. But I admit, other than that, they have all been a bit dull. 

The Wiggle Waggle Walkathon (try saying that three times fast) is different. Why? Dogs! More breeds than you can imagine. Super big ones, tiny ones, and everything in between. There are often a few hardy cats, sometimes a miniature pony, and a parrot at least once. It's amazing. It's beautiful. And it's fun!

Some of the animals that walk owe their lives to the walker in the Wiggle Waggle Walkathon and their sponsors because the funds raised paid for their rescue from injury or abuse, lifesaving surgery and care at the OHS. That's the serious side of the walk. All of the human walkers share a common belief in the inherent value of animals in our lives. As with all walks, that's the invigorating part. But the difference is the fun. 

Bruce Roney
Executive Director 

P.S.  Don't forget to collect pledges. That's what is going to save lives. And if you are a runner, check out the Wiggle Waggle Walkathon's fraternal twin: the Run for the Animals.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What are you doing for National Homeless Animals Day?

Think of Ottawa's homeless animals on
National Homeless Animals Day
I have always believed in the Ottawa Humane Society as a force for good. Not just for the homeless animals in our care on a given day, but in helping to create a more compassionate community. I am grateful to work here. But I have never been as grateful personally for the OHS, its work, and everyone who makes it possible, as I am now. 

So, what are you doing for National Homeless Animals Day? Okay, I get it—probably not a lot. It's not like its Thanksgiving or anything. Even working at the OHS, I generally didn't think about it that much. This year is a bit different for me. After quite a few years of being pet-less—a conscious choice resulting from a busy schedule and a minor allergy to cats—I now have a pet again. Living with Gracie has made some subtle changes to my view of homeless animals: their face has changed from the many thousands to the one. She is the poster-cat for homeless animals now in my life and in my mind.
When I look at Gracie, I am grateful for her and for the second chance that our donors, our staff and our volunteers gave her. On bad days, I imagine what might have happened to her without the OHS, or worse, imagine someone hurting her the way so many animals we see are hurt. 

So, I am grateful to the OHS and everyone who helps Ottawa's animals and protects them from hurt. And in your honour, and in gratitude for Gracie, I am going to celebrate National Homeless Animals Day with a donation to the OHS to give homeless animals a reason to celebrate too.

Maybe you want to celebrate? How about joining me in a gift to homeless animals in honour of everyone who helps them and the animals that have changed your life like Gracie changed mine?
Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cecil the lion - what can you do?

Cecil the Lion
The appalling and cowardly shooting of Cecil the Lion became a world-wide rallying point for those of us who care about animals. I think this tragic story has made a lot of us feel helpless. We want to help animals like Cecil. We want to make a difference, but how? Just sharing our outrage on Facebook feels shallow and futile. But these incidents happen thousands of miles away, in other countries, in isolated geography. Even if we had the time and the money to fly to far-flung destinations, what could you and I do when we got there? Surely this isn't the solution. Sadly, it's too late for Cecil anyway.

But there are rare animals that need your help, right here in Ottawa. Their names are Marie and Shelly. They are captive Asian elephants. This week, the Zerbini Circus, will again be rolling into Ottawa under the guise of the Shrine Circus with Marie and Shelly in tow.

The two elephants have been trained to entertain you by doing tricks. How are elephants trained to do tricks? With bullhooks.

What is the connection between Shelly and Marie and Cecil? The ultimate source of their pain is the same—the attitude that animals exist solely for our use. If it's okay to make elephants dance to avoid pain for our amusement, then it's only a small leap to shoot them for the same reason.

Circus elephants
So, what do Shelly and Marie need from you? They need you to boycott the Shrine circuses and all of its ilk. They need you to refuse the telemarketers who ask you to buy tickets for "under-privileged children." They need you to speak for them;  to tell others about their plight.

Circuses are about money, not about education and certainly not about animal welfare. If there is no money to be made, they will wither away, along with the message that that they bring to young people about domination and exploitation of animals. It's a simple plan: don't pay, don't go, and let others know

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Interviews with Guinness: Jon Dunkerley and His Guide-dog, Lars

The Science Diet® Wiggle Waggle Walkathon and
Run for the Animals Spokesdog Guinness
Guinness sat down with Jon Dunkerley and his guide-dog Lars, Honorary Chair(s) of the OHS Run for the Animals to ask why the Run is so important to them.

Guinness: Why is the Run for the Animals so important to you?

Jon: The Run for the Animals is important to me because it brings awareness to the Humane Society and all the hard work they do every single day to reduce the number of stray dogs and cats in our city. This organization does incredible work, and as a matter of fact my brother and sister adopted their cat from the OHS a number of years ago.

 Jon Dunkerley
Lars: The Run for the Animals is important to me, Bar, because I get to meet many new people and share many doggy handshakes along the way. Plus, people get to ooh and aww over my shiny coat and playful big brown eyes, not to mention daddy lets me misbehave so I get to be a bad boy and run around with my leash in my mouth!

Guinness: Do you have/have you had any animal companions?

Jon: I have had pet dogs in the past, and have had two seeing-eye dogs; my first, a big Yellow Lab named Luther, and now a little Black Lab fire cracker named Lars.

Lars: I have one companion animal. His name is Jon. Ha ha!

Guinness: Where is your favorite place in Ottawa to run?

Jon: My favorite place in Ottawa to run would be down the canal, especially in the summer when so many people are out enjoying the nice weather.

Lars: My favorite place to run is at Conroy Pit! Daddy and I go there sometimes and I run around like a maniac being a bad boy! I chew sticks, chase other doggies sometimes, and every once in a while I will even bellyflop in puddles!

Guinness: How can someone train for a 5K or 10K?

Jon: For somebody training for their first 5 or 10K run, I would suggest just keeping it simple and trying to get out the door every day for an easy run, gradually lengthening how long they run for until they can cover their race distance without stopping. Once you can do this, then you can start adding a little bit of faster pacing to a few of your runs a week.

Lars: Chase sticks! That always seems to keep me motivated!

To sign up or learn more about the Run for the Animals, please visit 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Asking for Those Who Cannot Ask for Themselves

Animals cannot speak, or ask, for themselves.
For years, humane societies and SPCAs across North America, including the Ottawa Humane Society, adopted the slogan, "We speak for those that cannot speak for themselves." It was—and is— a great tagline. It's short, memorable, and gets to the heart of at least a big part of what we do. After all, animals can't be their own advocates. They rely on us, and you, to be their voices, whether it be at a protest march, or in a letter to the editor, or at a city committee.

What we forgot was to add that we also need to ask for those who can't ask for themselves. On behalf of the animals, we ask you to volunteer your time, we ask you to write those letters, and we ask you for money. Dogs can't send out mail appeals, cats put on terrible events and rabbits are the worst at corporate fundraising. But rescuing them from abuse and neglect has a cost. Their care has a cost. The animals don't know it. But you and I do.

A lot of people don't like asking for money. I understand. If the money was for me, it would be very tough for me too. But it's not for me, it's for an abused cat, a dog left in a sweltering car, a raccoon in leg hold trap. It's for 10,000 animals that need us every year. So I don't mind asking for those that can’t ask for themselves any more than I mind speaking for them.

So I am asking—for them. Soon, no doubt, the OHS will ask you to once again be the voice for animals in our community. And soon, no doubt, we will be asking you to open your heart and your wallet and make a gift to the animals. Please say yes to both.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Orphan kittens at the OHS

The Orphan Kitten Program was developed to provide our most vulnerable charges with the extra care and nurturing they need during their stay at the Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) and in one of our specially trained foster homes. 

With the support of dedicated staff and volunteers, our wee felines receive extra care and attention throughout the day. All of the kittens need additional feedings and increased socialization; younger or weaker kittens also need enhanced medical support. 

Once kittens are stable enough at the OHS, they can be moved into foster care, where they receive ongoing care and nurturing. 

The OHS has developed program guidelines that follow best practices in shelter medicine to ensure that we are able to provide as much help to these tiny kittens as we can.

Currently, 70 kittens are benefiting from this life-saving program. 

Sharon Miko
OHS Deputy Director
Three little kittens.
Me first.
Feed me please!
Getting cleaned up.
Having my face washed.
Cuddle time.
How's the reception?
Pat me more please.
Play time.
I'm gonna get that ball.
Got it!
We are ready for whatever is next!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Practice Fire Safety with Your Pet

Many of us consider our pets to be part of the family – their safety and well-being is of course important to us. But, sometimes, we may forget to include our pets in some of our most important family activities. Do you practice fire safety with your pet?

A few basic steps can help secure a fire emergency plan that includes four-legged family members. Consider these simple tips:
  • Familiarize yourself with your pet’s favourite hiding places in the house; this might be where he will run to during an emergency.
  • Keep a leash or carrier close to the entrance so that you can easily find and use this when removing your pet from the house during an emergency.
  • Ensure your pet’s ID tag and microchip are up to date in case he becomes frightened by the fire or fire trucks and runs away.
  • Keep an up-to-date In Case of Emergency sticker that lists the number and kinds of pets living in your house – keep this by your entrance to alert emergency-response officers of the furry family members who may need rescuing. (These are available at the OHS.)
  • Assign a family member to be responsible for each pet during an emergency.
  • Practice your fire emergency plan with your pet! Go through the steps of where you will find your pet, secure him on a leash or in a carrier, and practice exiting the house safely with him.
  • Think ahead: In the case of a fire, where will your family go? Will your pet be able to go with you, or will you need to arrange a safe place for him to stay?
  • Pet-proof your house – ensure your pet cannot access open flames or anything that could start a fire.
  • Supervise your pet – keep his curious nature out of the kitchen or other places where there are fire risks. When you’re away from home, make sure your pet is in a safe, secure place in the house.
July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day. Remember: having a simple plan in place could save your pet’s life.

Andrea Tatarski,
Coordinator: Humane Education

Friday, July 10, 2015

Travel and Your Pet

Now that summer has finally arrived, a lot of pet owners will be taking summer holidays - many of you with your pets. Travelling with the whole family including a pet can be a fun experience, but like most travel (and pet) experiences, it can be made safer and less stressful with a little planning. 

I came across an excellent resource that can help you plan your journey with a pet. Check out Pet Friendly Canada at The site not only has comprehensive lists of tips and things to bring with you, but also identifies pet-friendly accommodation and attractions across the country. 

Summer is painfully short. Please make it a safe and happy one for you and your best friend.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ottawa Humane Society Dogs Among the Rarest of Canine Breeds

Seven years ago this month, I fell in love with an eight-week-old, black and tan bundle of fur. Maximus, Max to his friends, was available for adoption at my local humane society. He was listed as a shepherd mix. While the unknowns that come with the title of “mix” may have turned some people away, I saw only his huge, floppy ears and loving personality.

After years of being asked by passers-by on the street and at dog parks about what breed of dog he was, I decided to try out a DNA test. Two weeks after swabbing his adorable little cheeks, I received a huge surprise when I learned that he was in fact Lhasa Apso and Miniature Short Haired Daschund with a sprinkling of German shepherd! While you could have knocked me over with a feather, this explained a lot. Looking like a real life version of Scrappy Doo, he is full grown at just under 40 pounds. He has the incredible ability to stretch out slinky style across a queen-sized bed and has the picky eating style of a restaurant critic. Best of all though, he is filled to the brim with love and greets me like a fan greets his favorite rock star every time I walk through the front door. While my little Tibetan Wienershep will never be recognized by the AKC, he is more important than any Monet, Degas or Renoir. He is a masterpiece, a true one of a kind dog and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This month at the Ottawa Humane Society, we invite you to find your priceless work of art as we shine a light on the incredible uniqueness of all our amazing dogs. Additionally, with every adoption you will be entered to win a grand prize of two tickets to the National Gallery, a $50 gift certificate for PLAY Food and Wine, a Wisdom Panel DNA kit and seven Crazy Beautiful collars. So whether you find your Shaggy English Snugterrier or your Pink-nose Spotted Waterdoodle, you will find that the truly rare, one-of-a-kind dogs humbly go by mix, mutt and Heinz 57.

Sarah Oswald
Manager: Admissions and Rehoming

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