Most people are surprised when I speak or write about the work of the Ottawa Humane Society. Few expect the number, range and depth of our programs and activities. We do a lot for our community and the animals with the hope that the investment will improve the welfare of the animals and change the future. Out of these, I believe there are three things that will lead to the biggest and fastest positive changes: legislation, education and sterilization. Legislation is a reflection of community norms and when legislation changes, communities follow. Education, particularly with children and youth, creates better future pet owners.
Sterilization is also an effective means to change. This has been one of the main OHS messages for decades. Too many animals will suffer as long as there are too many animals. And too many animals will end up needing a refuge as a result of remaining unsterilized.
One of my happiest professional moments was when in 2005, the OHS opened an internal clinic, allowing us to ensure that every animal adopted from our care was spayed or neutered before the adoption. No more would we run the risk of contributing to pet overpopulation, through our imperfect voucher system.
In the last decade, our clinic has grown and allows us to perform a whole range of life-saving surgeries. But the core need, and so the core purpose, remains the same: sterilize every animal before adoption. And sterilizing them quickly means they don't languish in our shelter, maxing out our space and running the risk of stress and illness.
That is why we are asking you to "Spay it Forward" this month. Because spaying and neutering helps not only that dog or cat, but ultimately all dogs and cats. It is one of the most important keys to a better future for our animal companions.