Thursday, March 31, 2016

Matching Seniors and Older Felines, and Saving Lives

Bitty kitties tend to get scooped up pretty quickly, but the Ottawa Humane Society recently introduced a new way to save more lives of their oft-overlooked older feline friends. 

In just two short months since its launch, the OHS’s new Cats for Seniors program has found homes for seven older felines in need. The program matches cats aged five plus with senior adopters aged 60 plus to help find homes for cats faster while giving their new human caretakers the companionship of a furry friend. OHS staff actively seek matches for cats in need with seniors who join the program, at half the usual adoption fee. 

Older cats tend to be in the shelter much longer than their junior counterparts, and the longer these cats stay in the shelter and not in a forever home, the greater their stress and risk of getting sick. The Cats for Seniors program gets them out of the shelter faster and into loving homes where they belong. It’s a wonderful happily-ever-after for everyone involved!

The Cats for Seniors program is just one way that the OHS is doing more to help the animals and our community: nothing compares to the love and companionship of an animal. And for an animal, there’s nothing like a loving forever home.

Sharon Miko
OHS Deputy Director

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Street is No Place for a Cat: Part Three

Cats are safer indoors.
Since my blog, "The Streets are no Place for a Cat" in late January, there has been a lot of discussion of the issue by email, the media and social media. I am very happy that it is being discussed, as I would argue this issue is among the most important in animal welfare. 

I have been surprised at the vehemence with which some cat owners argue that their cats need to roam, especially those that acknowledge the inherent dangers. I fear for their cats and hope that they don't suffer the fate of many of the free-roaming cats I see at the OHS. 

I have been touched my some of the stories that people have shared with me. I was particularly touched and saddened by B.H.'s story:

"I remember when I was just a little girl, my dad, not knowing better in those years, used to put my cat outside during the very cold winter nights but my mom’ s dog stayed in. At a very young age I would be crying myself to sleep thinking it was totally unfair and dangerous for all my cats.. .. I even had some children from my school who played tricks on me and grabbed one of my cats, while he was roaming outside somewhere and drowned my beautiful cat. They even took pleasure telling the next day what they have done. Needless to say, I came home in tears and my dad said to me it was just a cat and that I could get another one. I could never accept that kind of reasoning.. ..To this day I have terrible anxiety when it comes to the welfare of my cats." 

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited onto the CBC afternoon show, Ontario Today to talk about keeping cats indoors. I was very gratified that all of the callers, to one degree or another, supported keeping cats indoors. 

Many callers had novel ways to compromise — ways to allow their cats some outdoor air and sunshine while keeping them safe. One caller described how a harness didn't work, a leash worked even less, but landed on a screened cat porch in which his cats languished in homemade hammocks on his back deck. 

Several callers made a distinction between allowing a cat out in a rural areas, versus suburban, versus urban. One felt urban cats learned to be more street-savvy, another that rural and suburban areas were safer because of fewer cars. I commented, essentially, that while both callers could be right in some instances, all outdoor cats faced every danger I listed to one degree or another. 

I am glad that this topic has struck a chord and that people are talking about it. Keep talking; it may save a cat's life.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, March 3, 2016

What a Difference a Thousand Makes

With less animals coming in to the shelter, pets like Chili can
find homes faster.
Malcolm Gladwell is an amazing writer. If you haven't read him, you should check out his work. In his book, The Tipping Point, he describes, "... that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate." 

In the past year or so, we seemed to have reached a tipping point that Gladwell described. We have seen a relatively small dip in our numbers: about a thousand fewer animals are in need of our care in a year. This represents a less than 10 per cent drop, but the impact has been much greater. If you visit our Adoption Centre, it looks empty. Well, empty-ish. But here is the thing: we are adopting more animals than when the Adoption Centre and our holding area was jam-packed.  

The relatively small dip in intake has had a remarkable knock-on effect. Combined with other efforts to enhance our processes, the reduction in numbers has allowed animals to become ready for adoption much more quickly and steadily. Fewer animals stuck waiting for medical assessment, for surgeries, or for fostering means all the animals can be adopted more quickly.  

The result is less animal stress from a full shelter, and animals becoming available at a more constant rate, and therefore being adopted very quickly once available — and so the appearance of an empty Adoption Centre when in fact more animals than ever are finding forever homes. It is remarkable.
Of course, there are still close to 10,000 animals that need and will need our care — and need you — every year, but what an amazing result for those that do. 

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

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