Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving is the New Black

There are 130 cats and kittens at the OHS who
need your help on Giving Tuesday.
It's the most wonderful time of the year! And, no, I don't mean the door buster deals of Black Friday.

Sure it's easy and exciting to be lured into the rock-bottom prices, the never-been-seen-before deals, the buy-one-get-one specials and the extended hours of shopping frenzy, (we even have our own weekend long sales in the OHS Buddy & Belle Boutique) but it's actually next Tuesday that has my interest peaked.

#GivingTuesday is like the modest, younger sibling to its overbearing counterparts, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And while it was originally launched by a United Nations Foundation in the U.S., this global movement for giving and volunteering has a very Canadian feel.

Giving back and looking out for our neighbours is part of who we are as a nation. So, it's not surprising that since its inception just four years ago, Giving Tuesday has flourished here in Canada at an online participation growth rate of 300 per cent year over year. What was a handful of organizations promoting the "opening day of the giving season" in 2012 is now more than 4,700 partners strong in 2016. And the OHS is proud to be one of those partners.

So, I won't be lined up outside my favourite store fronts tomorrow morning or up at dawn on my computer for online shopping on Monday. But on Tuesday November 29, I will be supporting the #GivingTuesday movement as we open the all-important giving season at the OHS with thousands of caring donors and hundreds of loving volunteers by our side, all for the love of animals. Won't you join me?

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Life as an OHS Shelter Veterinarian

I’m often asked, “What is it like to be a veterinarian at the OHS?” There is no one word or single sentiment that sums it up. It’s busy, exciting, challenging, fun, and rewarding. There are moments of joy and times of sadness. It’s everything I ever thought being a veterinarian would encompass, and more.     

Working in a shelter differs substantially from veterinary medicine in a private practice:
  • In a shelter, we’re typically dealing with animals with no known history. This leaves us to piece together their medical needs from a careful physical examination alone.
  • We practice high quality, high volume, spay and neuter techniques to allow us to perform surgery safely and efficiently, giving a second chance to as many animals as possible. These techniques are specialized and are typically used in shelters and spay/neuter clinics across North America.
  • Infectious disease is something we also face much more often than would be seen in general practice. In handling infectious disease cases, the health of the entire population has to be considered in our treatment plan. Our patients have often had no previous preventive health care such as vaccinations, internal and external parasite treatments, sterilization or dental care. 
All of these things make shelter medicine a unique and challenging specialization of veterinary medicine. To be a successful shelter veterinarian, you need to be efficient, hard working, compassionate, and exhibit good clinical judgement. On top of all this, excellent surgical skills are a must.  

I often chat with my veterinary colleagues about my work days. Those who work in general practice are astounded when I mention the volume of work we manage to do in a day at OHS:     
  • Days begin by assessing the animals in critical care, the unit where the OHS’s sickest animals stay. Usually we will have six to eight patients in critical care to check on first thing in the morning.   
  • We then move on to pre-operative examinations. All OHS animals that will have surgery that day will receive a pre-operative examination from a veterinarian. We usually book 20-30 surgical procedures per day, and our goal is to have these completed by lunch time. 
  • Our afternoons are spent assessing any sick or injured animals in the shelter. Usually this involves examinations and treatment plans for 40 or more individual animals. 
  • On top of our routine work load, we deal with emergencies as needed.  
  • As the chief veterinarian, I am also tasked with overseeing medical and surgical protocols, managing overall shelter health, managing our veterinary team including our community volunteer veterinarians, and providing case consultation on complex medical cases.   
I often get asked “how do you do it?” by people wondering about all the abused, abandoned and neglected animals I see daily. I always reply that I am simply thankful that we are here to help those in need. I can’t change what has already happened but I can help change the future.   

I know that every single day that I come to work, I am making a difference in the lives of many animals and giving them a second chance. Seeing an animal that I have cared for recover from being sick or injured in our critical care unit to being well and finding a new home brings an indescribable feeling of fulfillment and joy.  

I also know that I contribute to not just the work I do on a day to day basis but the work of our organization in public education, sterilization, and advocacy that will bring a brighter future for our community’s animals.   

Most of all, I know that I am lucky to be able to practice my profession in such a progressive, kind, caring and compassionate organization that is the Ottawa Humane Society...and the cuddles from the four-legged friends I meet along the way are a pretty great perk too!  

Dr. Shelley Hutchings
Chief Veterinarian

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Our Values will Prevail

The Ottawa Humane Society is an organization founded on compassion. 

So I, like many of you, was shaken by the results of Tuesday's election. I am left with the feeling there is something I should do.  

So here it is. I will renew my personal commitment and the commitment of the OHS to the values we have lived and promoted for more than a century:
  • Protection for the weak
  • Respect for the dignity of all life
  • Care for those who are unable to care for themselves
  • A voice for those who cannot speak for themselves
  • Relief from pain and suffering
  • A respect for the environment that all creatures share
  • An abhorrence of cruelty                  
  • Building compassion through education
I hope that you will join all of us at the OHS in keeping these values in our hearts and actions over the period ahead. 

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, November 3, 2016

They Still Have Love to Give: Older Pets and You

Since I began working at the Ottawa Humane Society a lot of people approach me for advice — especially about the kind of pet to adopt. It's interesting, because very few of them actually heed the few pieces of advice I give.

There are  two things I recommend to almost anyone who asks. First, be patient and take the time to work with OHS staff to find the right pet for you. And second, adopt an older pet.

Many say they will follow the first piece, but quickly fall in love with pet that is cute, looks like a much-loved previous pet, or that they just feel an immediate bond with.

I tend to give a lot of reasons why an older pet is often a better choice. I tell people that our staff can give more information about the temperament, behaviour and little foibles of an older pet. Kittens and puppies often act very differently than their adult selves.

While most of us like a playful pet, older animals can provide welcome calm and quiet between playtimes. I know more than a few people still waiting hopefully for their retriever to reach a calmer phase of life; others are praying their cat will soon age out of climbing the curtains. Five years ago, I thought it would be fun to foster some puppies. Only two. And I still get tired when I think of it.

Take my advice. Older pets still need a home. They need love. They need you. Please give it some thought before you adopt. One of them may be what you need.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

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