Thursday, September 29, 2016

Special Pets for Special People

Chance, a special needs cat adopted from the OHS,
recently featured in the Ottawa Citizen.
Everyone at the OHS was so happy and grateful to read Alison Mah's Ottawa Citizen article on the rewards of adopting special needs pets ('I can't imagine our lives without him': Owner says benefits of special needs cat far outweigh costs, Sept. 26, 2016.) The article reminded me of what so many adopters tell me about their great experiences with special needs pets. It mirrored my own feelings, having adopted the very special Gracie in April of 2015.

It also reminded me of my blog on the subject from January 2014.

Special Pets for Special People

All the animals at the Ottawa Humane Society need our love and yours. But some need it a little more than others.

Close to 10 years ago, the OHS created a special needs adoptions program to help older animals and pets with manageable conditions get a second chance at finding a forever home. Conditions may include food allergies needing a special diet, thyroid conditions requiring regular, though inexpensive, medication, or heart murmurs that probably need nothing more than annual monitoring.

The older animals are healthy but beyond some people’s “best before” date. We think that they are great pets with years of health and love to give ahead of them. As we say about the older animals, "It takes a long time to get this sweet." Moreover, the older animals tend to be quieter and more predictable than the bouncing balls of fur some people choose.

To give them a little extra help finding homes, we feature our special needs cuties on Facebook and our other communications, and adopt them for half of the usual adoption fee. With our in-house clinic, we can assure  potential adopters that the animals’ known health concerns are limited to the ones we’ve identified. Our health guarantee still applies, as does the free health insurance.

I know that many people want to adopt a young and completely healthy pet. Rescuing a pet with special needs isn't for everyone. It is for special people with big hearts. 

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Silent Grief

I think we vastly under appreciate the impact of the loss of a pet. Too often, we tell people, through our words or actions, that they should just get over it (They can't get over it!) or to get a new pet (They don't want a new pet, they want that pet!) or in some other way diminish the person's feelings of loss and grief.

Too often this leads to the person who has lost a pet to suffer in silence because they feel silly or embarrassed by what they are feeling. That's not OK. The grief is real and we need to treat it as real. If we care, we have to feel and express that losing a pet counts as something worthy of grief.

Men, I think experience this more acutely, as we do with any problem that can be positively affected by sharing feelings. Few men will admit‎ it, but many probably shared more feelings with that old dog they do with their partner.

Don't let anyone tell you to put it in the past. You don't have to say, "I loved that cat." You love that cat. Period. Your time together may have been in the past but your feelings are right here in the present.

Because this is such a profound issue, as a part of our five-year strategic plan, the OHS has partnered with the Pet Loss Support Group to double the local resources for those grieving the loss of a beloved pet. A second group will be launched Mondays once a month beginning on September 26, right here at the OHS.

The group is free and light refreshments will be available. If you are experiencing the unresolved loss of a pet, please join us.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Good Day with HOPE

Ottawa's first spay/neuter clinic on wheels!
The best day I have had in a long time was last Thursday. That was the launch of our new Mobile Spay/ Neuter Program. It was fantastic. Our board was there. Some of our most committed supporters were there. We were all happy and excited to be doing something positive for our community and for the animals. And to me, it meant the beginning of the end of the endless cycle of thousands of cats needing our care every year. It meant that we are starting to solve a problem, not just deal with it endlessly. 

OHS supporters at the Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic launch event.
One of the main themes of OHS's five-year strategic plan is cat overpopulation: Too many cats will continue to live wretched lives, as long as there are too many cats. I believe this to the core. Finally, with this new program, we can reduce the number of cats in our community, and the number living wretched lives as a result. Studies suggest that in a community the size of Ottawa, 6,000 subsidized spay/neuters annually will result in a precipitous drop in overpopulation. By year two, the Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic is targeting that magic 6,000!

The one damper on that great day was that I failed to thank one of our great community friends and partners: the wonderful folks at HOPE, who, for 34 years have been presenting the fantastic HOPE Volleyball Summerfest. This event, the largest of its kind, is possible only because a HUGE number of volunteers — a board of directors, a planning team of 40 and an astounding 1,100 event day volunteers — come together with only one thing in mind: giving to our community. And what gifts they have given! HOPE has given over $3.5 million dollars to 110 local charities since its inception 34 years ago. 

Our friends at HOPE are giving the OHS $25,000 this year to help make this ambitious new program a success, and to make a difference for many generations of cats. They deserve my thanks and yours. Please join me in thanking all the great people at HOPE for their 34-year commitment to our community. 

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, September 8, 2016

One Fine Day

Join us this Sunday and help save animal lives.
The weather forecast for this year's Wiggle Waggle Walkathon and Run for the Animals next Sunday couldn't be better: 23 degrees and partly cloudy. No one will be too cold; no one will be too hot. Organization of the day is going really well. It promises to be a great time this year. All that's missing is you.

The proceeds from the walk and run sustain Ottawa's animals all year long. Life-saving surgeries, rescues of animals in distress, and the day-to-day care of animals who have nowhere else to go — all possible only because you come out to run or walk on this one fine day. Because the pledge system is on line, it's not too late to register. The system will help you send pledge requests to your friends and family auto-magically in an instant.

The animals depend on this one day. They are depending on you.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

P.S. Really, really can't make it this year? Consider sponsoring Betsy our spokesdog this year instead!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Walk or Run and Show you Care

The OHS Wiggle Waggle Walkathon and Run for the Animals are a lot of wonderful things: a great day out, a fun time with your family and your dogs, a chance to see breeds of dogs you never see anywhere else, and a chance to mingle with other caring and committed people in Ottawa. The run is all that and a chance to set a personal best.

But, they do have a very serious purpose: they are literally life-saving events.

We can plan all year long to create an event that is bigger and better than the one before, but only you can make them a success. The animals depend on you on this one day for their future.

You will remember last year, the event was struck by a huge, unprecedented electrical storm. It wasn't looking good for the animals, but you and our community saved the day, and saved the lives of hundreds of animals by being there with your gift when they needed you. The weather looks like it is going to return to the beautiful days that we are used to for the events, but the animals still need you.
 
You were here for Daisy, a kitten found in a zip-tied box into a Kanata dumpster in May. Only because of you could Daisy be treated for dehydration, her eye infection and her compromised  respiratory system. You came through and allowed the OHS vet to treat her with fluids, antibiotics and eye ointment. And because of you she was adopted late last spring. 

The Walk and Run paid for Coco's care. Coco, a Dogue de Bordeaux, was surrendered by her owner. She was five. With the help of an intervention volunteer, she received training for handling sensitivity, fear and food aggression. We spayed her and treated her for and food allergies. She was adopted in July into a home that could meet her needs. 

Betsy the spokesdog.
And, of course, there is Betsy, our walk spokesdog. Betsy exemplifies the animals that need you and the OHS. Betsy was a puppy mill survivor, the scars on her body tell us of her life: multiple litters, sores from years of sleeping without bedding, teeth rotting in her mouth, and overgrown nails from a lifetime of neglect. Betsy needed dental surgeries, to be spayed, and treatment for a bladder infection, grooming and time in foster. But she was adopted in the spring. A new life, because you walked, you ran, you cared.

Please sign up and start collecting pledges today. Please be there this year, on this one day, for the Daisys, the Cocos and the Betsys that are here right now in our shelter, and they need you to walk, to run and to care. 

Bruce Roney
Executive Director


P.S. I'm really looking forward to seeing you on September 11th!

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