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

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