Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thank you volunteers. Thank you Helen.

Hellen Keller
Helen Keller (1880–1968) was an American author, political activist and humanitarian. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Her story was shared through her autobiography and the stage play and movie based on it. She is an idol to many deaf people in the world and considered among the greatest people of the 20th century to many others, including me. 
This Volunteer Appreciation Week, I want to share her words in tribute to the close to 800 volunteers who give their time to the animals and to our community at the Ottawa Humane Society:
"I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."
Thank you OHS volunteers. And thank you Helen.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Should Earth Day Be on the Endangered Species List?

This Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day. The 47th one, in fact, since its founding in 1970. The Earth Day story is actually pretty fascinating. The project's website sets the stage: "At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. 'Environment' was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news."

Into this reality came Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. "Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a 'national teach-in on the environment' to the national media...(and) to promote events across the land."

"Teach-in on the environment"? Yikes. Anyone younger than me will be puzzled by the term. You see, in 1970, everything that happened ended with "-in".  There were sit-ins, love-ins, even the famous "bed-in" that John Lennon and Yoko Ono used to protest the Vietnam War in Montreal in 1969. The phrasing seems quaint in 2017. And I am sorry but "Earth Day" is a bit quaint-sounding  too. 

But here is the thing: Earth Day was one of early drivers of serious discussion about the environment, including animal habitat and extinction. And that discussion led to the creation of the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts in the U.S. by the end of that year. 

The situation in Canada was and is complicated by overlapping federal and provincial powers, and by and large legislative action came considerably later. Canada's Species at Risk Act became law in 2002, Ontario's Environmental Protection Act in 2004. Still, all legislation comes from discussion, and all discussion comes from awareness. And Earth Day remained among the few broad awareness movements about the environment through the '70s and into the new millennium. 

Today, few disagree that the environment is one of, if not the most, pressing issue facing our species and all the others that we share our world with — animals and people alike. Protections are under threat almost everywhere most of the time. We need all the reminders we can get that our home, our planet needs us to act. One of those reminders is Earth Day. We need it more than ever.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

P.S. To read more about the fascinating history of Earth Day, please visit its website.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What Our Statistics Tell Us About the Easter Bunny

With Easter approaching, some of our colleagues in the humane movement are reminding their communities that adopting a rabbit at Easter is a terrible idea. Some imply that thousands of bunnies die every year because children tire of the rabbit quickly and they end up in shelters, euthanized for lack of homes. This may happen in some communities, and reminding people to be responsible when it comes to bringing any pet into their homes is always a good thing. But as is so often the case in animal welfare, myth sometimes beats out fact, rigid thinking can be counterproductive, and reality is not the same from community to community.

So, what is the story in our community?

Last year, the OHS cared for 208 domestic rabbits. Of these, close to 40 per cent were surrendered by their families. Another 36 per cent were stray and 23 per cent were transferred to the OHS from other humane societies and groups. The busiest months for surrender of bunnies are August and September. In contrast, for dogs and cats, the months for highest owner surrenders are May and June. 

So what does this tell us about the problem of rabbits given at Easter? The fact that the highest surrender months — at about double the average month — are about six months after Easter means there likely is an issue. But the number surrendered in those two months totals only 26. So it's a problem, but likely not a big problem. These numbers of rabbits coming into our care are relatively manageable and we have discovered that there are good homes for bunnies if we sterilize them before adoption.

Like adopting cats and dogs at Christmas, we have changed our thinking about adopting rabbits at Easter. No, we don't think giving children at pet rabbit just because it is Easter is a good idea. But, if someone has done their research, concluded that a rabbit would be a good pet for their family, and is willing to meet all of the rabbit's needs, then why not adopt at Easter? All of the normal adoption procedures apply, not matter what time of year. Easter may be an impetus for a family to start their research on bunnies as pets. For a lot of lucky people, it is a three — or even four-day weekend. That's free time for families to integrate a pet into their home. In fact, it may be the best time for many to adopt a rabbit — or a cat or dog for that matter.

So, bunnies at Easter in our community? It's a good opportunity to remind ourselves to adopt only if we are prepared to make a commitment to any animal's needs for its lifetime. But it's also a time to find forever homes for pets, including the bunnies.

For more information about rabbits and their care, please visit our website.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Top 5 Cat Myths

It has been thousands of years since the domestication of the modern cat, and in this time these fascinating creatures have been the subject of many myths and legends developed by the humans who love them, as well as those who are wary of them.

From superstitions, such as black cats are bad luck, to the belief that cats always land on their feet — both false, by the way — cats have definitely garnered more than a few interesting mentions throughout human history.

In honor of feline folklores, here is a look at the Top 5 modern-day cat myths:

5: Cats cannot be trained
This is just not true. Cats are incredibly smart creatures and can be taught commands such as sit, stay, and come. They can be taught fun tricks like giving high fives. They can be taught how to walk on a leash… and so much more! Undesirable behaviours, such as inappropriate elimination where a medical reason has been ruled out by a veterinarian, destructive scratching and jumping on counters, for example, can also be addressed through a combination of behavioural and environmental modification. And, you don’t have to be a professional to train your cat: all you need is a little patience, a good feline training resource, and lots of praise and reward. But the best part is that training your cat increases the bond between you two, while providing your cat with some very beneficial mental stimulation.

For more information on training your cat, please check out

4: If a cat is purring, it means she is happy
Cats purr for a variety of reasons, not just when they are content. Cats can purr when they are hurt or scared, and even when they are giving birth. Interestingly, not only do cats release endorphins when they purr, but the frequency at which they purr at is in a range that has been found to stimulate bone growth and healing. So, it seems purring may be used as self-soothing behaviour for cats. Cats also use purring as a form of communication. As kittens are born blind and deaf, mother cats will purr so that their kittens can find their way to her body for warmth and to nurse, and her kittens can start purring back at mom and siblings at two days old. Some studies have shown that a happily purring cat may even offer health benefits to their human owners, such as lowering stress and blood pressure. So next time your cat is contentedly purring beside you, go ahead and soak in those vibes!

3: Some breeds of cats do not cause allergies
There are many opinions surrounding this issue and many resources that claim there are hypoallergenic cats. This can be misleading, as no cat is 100 per cent hypoallergenic. Cat allergies are not caused by a cat’s fur, but rather a protein found in their skin which comes off in dander. Protein found in saliva and urine can also be a source of allergens. So, whether a cat is short-haired, long-haired, or hairless, there is no guarantee that they won’t trigger allergies in susceptible humans — despite claims to the contrary. The good news though, is that some cats can be less likely to trigger allergies, and there are ways to help reduce allergens in a home.

The bottom line is: if you are considering adopting a cat and have concerns about allergies, make sure to do your research first and consult with your family physician.

2: Indoor cats cannot catch diseases or parasites
Just because a cat doesn’t go outside doesn’t mean they are immune to contagious diseases. Some viruses and bacteria that cause illness in cats can be airborne or brought home to your cat on your clothing. Fleas and other parasites could also be brought home to your cat on your clothing, or even by a pet dog that has come into contact with them while outside. And, as we all know, cats are very skilled at catching small animals that may get into your house, such as bats and mice, and these animals can transmit illness and parasites to your cat as well. So, to ensure your best kitty friend stays protected from illness, talk to your veterinarian. For more ways to keep your cat happy and healthy, please check out:

1: Cats are ‘loners’
An unfortunate cat stereotype seems to be that cats are independent ‘loners’ that require little more than food and shelter from their human caregivers. While cats do form a different type of relationship with humans than pet dogs for example, studies have shown that cats can form social relationships and strong bonds with their owners. And, as any cat lover will tell you, some cats can be extremely affectionate toward people and other animals. All cats require more than just food and shelter from their owners. Cats show affection by raising their tails upright in a greeting, rubbing with their heads and flanks, and purring when content. Conversely, cats can show signs that they are lonely or lacking attention by excessive grooming or meowing, overeating or not eating, or a decrease in activity and interactions.

To ensure you are providing your indoor cat with the attention and enrichment she needs, check out:

Ashley Hodgins 
Coordinator: Feline Services  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Rhinos, Fundraising, a Little Thought and a Little Research

My Facebook feed declared last night that the Western Black Rhinoceros had been declared officially extinct. I was sad. I have never seen one and now never would. The world — my world — felt diminished without this creature in it. Because of the prevalence of false news on social media, I decided to make sure the story was true. Snopes, my go to source for reality, confirmed the story. The demise of Western Black Rhino has indeed happened. In 2006. Okay, that doesn't make it any better. But I am glad I took the time to check the story and didn't share it.
Letter from the Animal People Forum

Similarly, yesterday, I received a letter from an organization called Animal People Forum. The postmark was Jamaica, New York, though with a mailing address in the state of Washington. Overall the piece looked a bit odd. And despite my 17 years in animal welfare, I had never heard of this organization. So, I went to their website. I looks pretty good. But you have to read it carefully. They have four projects. One is called, "Beyond Human: Animals, Aliens and Artificial Intelligence." Yikes. I'm glad I checked that one out too.

This all made me wonder how many letters hit our supporters' mailboxes, and whether people check out what they receive. In my experience, people who care about animals are a very kind bunch. They want to help. Sadly, this can be taken advantage of. And there are groups that range from misleading and dubious to outright frauds ready to take advantage.

I would never presume to tell anyone the causes they should support but I hope and pray that people ensure that they are really supporting the issue they intend. It only takes little thought and a little research.

First, what are the issues you care about? Mainly domestic pets? Wildlife? Are you mainly concerned about local issues? National? International? All of the above? Do you want to support actual care for animals or do you think that awareness and advocacy are really going to affect change? Having considered these questions before that very emotional appeal hits your mailbox can help you to make sure your hard-earned cash does what you want it to.

The second consideration is whether the organization asking you for cash actually does what it says — or implies. A quick review of their website is sometimes all you need to do. What does this organization actually do? Be careful here, I have a seen some misleading practices. A few sites show animals for adoption, but none of the animals are actually in the care of that organization, just adoptable animals pulled from other websites. An organization may highlight an important issue, but it's not clear what they are doing about it. I am very concerned about the loss of the Western Black Rhino, but the OHS website does not imply that we did anything to try to prevent it. Beware too of small gestures that are expensive and may not add up to significant change. Sending a staff team to China to adopt a few dogs from the meat markets and fly them back to Canada may raise awareness, and it certainly saves some canine lives, but is supporting the flights the best way to close the markets? Is it where you want to invest your money?

Other places you can check are the Canada Revenue Agency charities listings. Every registered charity in Canada is listed and you can easily find out how they spend their money with a few clicks. And if they are not a registered charity, ask yourself why not?

If it is a humane society asking for your support, are they a member of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS)? Most are. And another few clicks on the CFHS site can tell you.

You can always call us at the OHS too. We won't provide a recommendation, but we sometimes can provide some basic facts and we will tell you if we work with a particular group.
The OHS is one of only two humane societies in Canada
to achieve accreditation with Imagine Canada
I hope that in the not-too-distant future accreditation of various sorts will help us all in separating the legitimate and effective from the dubious and misleading. That is why the OHS sought and achieved accreditation with Imagine Canada for excellence in board governance, financial accountability, fundraising, staff management, and volunteer involvement last year. We wanted to support this direction among not-for-profits and wanted to assure our community of supporters of our commitment.

Few charities have achieved this, and only one other humane society in Canada, the British Columbia SPCA, has done so to date. I am not suggesting that those that haven't are not legitimate, but I look forward to a day when you and I can rely on this and other forms of accreditation to assure that our kindness is not exploited.

Until then, you and I can do it ourselves, through a little thought and a little research.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Is a Great Pet Born or Made?

Pets typically require formal or informal training
We in animal welfare often talk about "Disney" dogs. Disney dogs, or cats for that matter, never pee on the carpet, don't chew your shoes, don't need you to exercise them. They don't need a vet, or a groomer, and they understand anything that you calmly and rationally explain to them — or better yet, understand what you want completely intuitively. Of course, we aren't referring to a real dog or cat; we are referring to some people's expectation of a pet — an unrealistic expectation, and a damaging one at that.

It is damaging because we know that if someone expects a Disney pet, they are going to be disappointed, they will not bond with the pet, and there is a good chance she will end up here, surrendered to the care of the OHS.

The OHS has developed behaviour seminars for cats and dogs
In both animals and humans, there is controversy about "nature versus nurture." That is, how much of what we are is a result of genetics or upbringing? Without opening that debate up too far, I think it is fair to say that there is a good dose of both in us and in our animal companions. I have often been impressed with our staff's dogs. They are generally fantastic dogs. (I don't often meet their cats) Over the years, I have often thought they must have excellent eyes for selecting dogs. This is likely true to an extent, but most also invest heavily in formal and informal training to make great dogs.

So, you may not have a perfect dog or cat, but the OHS has developed several dog obedience programs and dog and cat behaviour seminars, Don't Blame the Cat and Don't Blame the Dog for you. The Disney pet may not exist, but some investment of time and effort get at least as close as our staff have.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Rabbit Around the House

I confess, despite the many pets I have had in my life, I have never had a pet rabbit. My good friend in the U.K. did though. The bunny, simply known as "Rabbit," was a house rabbit.  Rabbit had run of the house. In fact, he wasn't happy that I would close the door of the guest bedroom, keeping him out. Invariably, at some time during the night, he would throw himself at the door to try to get in.

I will further confess, till I met him, I never thought of a rabbit as a viable pet, having seen only  undersocialized ones confined to cages at the edge of the garden growing up. To me, keeping rabbits seemed cruel and pointless. But a house rabbit is different thing. Rabbit was paper trained, and my friend told me he rarely had a accident, unless sick. He was moderately affectionate, though not with me. Perhaps because I locked him out of the guest bedroom.

Given this month is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month, here are a few things our adoption staff want you to know about pet rabbits:

Rabbits are intelligent, social animals. When given plenty of attention, they make affectionate and rewarding family pets. They can be trained to use a litter box and are more enjoyable, responsive pets when living indoors as house rabbits. Given appropriate care, rabbits can live 10 years or more. Before adopting a rabbit, consider the following:
  • Rabbits need daily exercise and play
  • Rabbits need nutritious food, fresh water and a clean habitat
  • Everyone in your household should understand how to hold and play with a rabbit, and be eager to welcome a rabbit into the family
  • Some rabbits can be destructive. They like to chew on books and wooden furniture and electrical cords, and will need to be monitored
For more information about rabbits and their care, visit

For rabbits and other small pets available for adoption right now, visit

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Our Unsung Heroes

The OHS relies on about 800 volunteers.
This month we will be surveying our volunteers. We do it every year. And it is a pretty big deal because at any given time, the OHS has about 800 active volunteers. They are a huge part of our work and of achieving our goals. The OHS would grind to a halt without them. So we want to make sure they are satisfied with their placement and how we treat them.

It turns out OHS volunteers are a pretty happy bunch. Last year, 87 per cent rated their overall volunteer experience as either very good or excellent. A whopping 92 per cent felt they were "always" or "usually" supported by the staff they work with. Close to the same percentage of volunteers felt they were usually or always appreciated. 
Canine enrichment volunteers walk dogs, offer enrichment
and encourage basic obedience.
It is very gratifying to see these results because volunteers are so essential, but also because managing and supporting that number of people is a challenge. Even greater can be the challenge of managing all of the people who want to volunteer — a number several times the number of active volunteers. In fact, interest is so great that for a number of years, the OHS has recruited volunteers pretty much the same way we do staff: positions are posted, candidates submit applications, are interviewed, then oriented and trained before being placed.
Brightening Lives volunteers bring joy to the
community through companion
animal visits.

Of course, not all our positions are as sought-after as others. In particular, finding experienced candidates for canine enrichment, Brightening Lives Animal Visits, grooming and outreach canvassing to promote our Mobile Spay Neuter Services Program has proven to be a challenge. And maintaining enough foster families to care for animals in their homes means there is almost always a need, especially in the summer months.

If you want to join the happy group of often unsung heroes that are changing the lives of animals and people in our community, check out all of the positions available.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, March 2, 2017

You Made National Cupcake Day the Sweetest Day of the Year

National Cupcake Day at Economical Insurance Ottawa.
On Feb. 27, National Cupcake Day marked the sweetest day of the year for the animals at OHS. Thanks to all the teams and individuals who baked, sold and purchased cupcakes, we have raised nearly $18 thousand to date for the animals.

In the weeks leading up to the big day, we had a chance to get to know two teams that were passionate about helping Ottawa’s animals:

Economical Insurance Ottawa developed a committee to support this year’s National Cupcake Day. The company stepped up to support the animals by offering to match all donations up to $1,000. They were very active over the last month with raffles, a cutest pet competition, 50/50 draws and so much more. Thanks to their efforts, they raised $1,300 for our furry friends. Their reason to give back: many had adopted pets from the OHS and know how much their support mattered to the animals still looking for forever homes.

The next group was a combination of a few teams making up Dylan’s Dream Team. Dylan’s Dream Team was developed in support of the Dylan Fund to recognize a wonderful 14-year-old boy who passed away in November 2016. Dylan cared very deeply about the environment and the well-being of all animals. In his memory, friends, family and community members who knew Dylan raised funds for the benefit of animals at the OHS. Between family, friends and loved ones, these dedicated supporters raised more than $3,000 for the animals!

Thanks to everyone who participated in National Cupcake Day! Your generous support has helped change animal lives.

Shelley Maclean
Manager: Events

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Saving Lives with Dentistry

Over a decade ago, when we opened our first in-house clinic, the OHS realized its long time dream to replace our once leading-edge, but then outdated, voucher system for spaying and neutering animals post-adoption with a "no animal is adopted unsterilized" policy. Back then, we were frequently backlogged with animals waiting for sterilization surgery. Additional resources, a new clinic, and better technique has meant that now animals rarely wait long for sterilization. Now they wait for dentistry.

The need for veterinary dentistry is a difficult reality faced by most, if not all, progressive shelters in North America. We simply cannot adopt an animal that may be in pain and tell the adopter that they have to spend a thousand dollars or more right away on their new pet. It isn't realistic. Many won't to do it. Many would simply not adopt that particular animal. But, not treating a cat or a dog that requires dentistry is not only unacceptable medically, it is cruel. Imagine you suffered severe pain in your mouth from rot and abscesses for the rest of your life.

Dentistry helps animals like Chip, who had some teeth
pulled at the OHS, find their second chance.
So, we struggle with this new challenge. An eight-year-old cat likely has a long and healthy life ahead.  But many need dentistry to achieve it. Beyond the issue of serious pain, our chief veterinarian tells me that untreated, periodontal disease can lead to very serious problems like jaw fractures from bone loss, infection of the jawbone, and nasal infections. And that aside from periodontal disease causing oral problems, it can also have systemic consequences, affecting the kidneys, liver and heart.

We cannot, in good conscience leave an animal to suffer. While minor, or potential future dental issues are identified for adopting families, anything which likely causes pain has to be addressed before adoption.

Dentistry for pets is not a luxury. We have to provide dentistry to save lives, and to give animals a life worth living.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Does Your Pet Love You?

When I was young, I was taught that the way "we" distinguished humans from animals was that humans used tools, and animals did not. It wasn't long after I saw pictures of chimpanzees using sticks to pull insects from decaying trees. "Tools!" gushed National Geographic, "Now we would have to re-think everything!" Today, of course, we know that there are a dozen or so species that use tools, including lowly crows and octopuses.

We used to think a lot of things about animals that weren't true — usually things that would diminish their existence from our own. We now know that many species have excellent memories, strong family bonds, feel a sense of loss, and possess many other attributes that we once held as a part solely of our own human existence.

But do animals love? I'm talking about love here, not mere attachment, as there is little doubt that is a part of an animal's experience. Now, there is a lot we don't know about the emotions of cats and dogs, and without delving too deeply into the nature of love, John Bradshaw, a researcher at the University of Bristol contends that dogs do "love" their owners. He suggests that cats admire us, and show the same kind of behaviours they show other cats that they like, but like the person you dumped in college, "they just don't get us." This is probably because cats have only been living with us for about 10,000 years, and most of their breeding has been to produce colour and style. This is opposed to dogs, who settled down with us 30,000 years ago and have been selectively bred ever since to get along with us better. Had that date in college been selectively bred to get along with you better, maybe he or she would still be around.

In the end, I wonder if it matters. It feels like they love us. We certainly love them. And love, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, no?

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

May 21, 2017: A Momentous Day for Animals

In May 2017, Uniondale, a small suburb of New York City, will host the final chapter of nearly 150 years of animal exploitation and cruelty — the last performance of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus.

When it announced in 2015 it was phasing out elephants in its performances, Ringling Bros. cited "a mood shift among our consumers." It also cited the difficulty of fighting local legislation that would affect its shows, ranging from outright circus bans to the prohibition of the notorious bullhook, a sharp hooked tool commonly inserted in elephants' skin to train and corral them.

This time, on its outright closure, the company pointed to high costs and declining ticket sales.  Declining ticket sales are no doubt due, in large part, to an increasingly sensitized public staying away from the shows in droves.

Only the Shrine Circus continues as regular fixture in Ottawa.
The OHS has been long opposed to captive wild animals in entertainment. In 2002, the OHS lobbied city council to ban elephants and other captive wild animals in circuses and other entertainment, as do many jurisdictions, including whole countries such as Austria, Greece, the Netherlands and Mexico. The city instead instituted a licensing regime. The OHS responded that the city should not license animal cruelty.

Today, only the annual Shrine Circus continues as regular fixture in Ottawa. There is no legislation on the horizon. But in the end, money talks. It spoke to Ringling Bros. And you can make your money talk by not supporting the Shrine or any circus.

For more information, a summary of the OHS's concerns can be found at:

To read about the Ringling Bros. decision:

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Wow! Look what you did!

We reached out, through the mail and online to tell you about a few of the animals that needed your special care. You responded. Now I want to tell you about what has happened to those cuties because of your kindness! 

Can you ever forget Chili? He was the seven-year-old cat found wandering the streets last January.  He was special needs, with stomach problems leading to him needing a prescription diet. Placed in our foster to adopt program, Chili found his forever family just days before Christmas on December 22.  
Chili celebrating Christmas in his forever home.
Ramsey was a five-year-old cat who arrived on Sept. 22. He was rushed to the OHS after being hit by a car and arrived limping from his pain. He suffered a horrific eye injury, was gasping for breath and his jaw was left hanging open. He was brought directly into Critical Care. Ramsey had his left eye removed. But because of you, Ramsey recovered and was adopted to his new home as a special needs adoption this past December.  
Ramsey in the critical care unit.
Ramsey ready for adoption.
Penny, a five-month-old retriever with mournful eyes, was rushed to the OHS by ambulance in November. She was diagnosed with a humorous fracture. X-rays confirmed her leg had been broken weeks before and was left to heal improperly. Sadly, her leg was too damaged and needed to be amputated. She spend some time in foster to recover and then was spayed. Penny lucked out and found a forever home on Dec. 10 with someone who also paid the cost of her leg amputation!
Penny after her surgery.
Penny looking for her forever home in the Adoption Centre.
The lovely Lilly was a very sweet nine-month-old cat. She was brought to the OHS as a stray on Sept. 24. She had been hit by a car and was in medical shock. She was in very rough shape. Her tail and leg were badly broken and both needed amputation. Your kindness allowed Lilly to pull through and she was adopted on Oct. 28.
Lilly recovering in the critical care unit.
Mia was a beautiful but very sick three-month-old puppy. When she arrived, the OHS veterinarian diagnosed her with acute juvenile cellulitis, also known as puppy strangles. It’s a rare condition caused by an immune system dysfunction. And it can be fatal without costly and intensive treatment. But you came through for Mia. She is now on steroids, nutritional supplements, anti-nausea medications, and a probiotic. She is presently in foster recovering, and we hope she will be in her forever home soon. 
Mia in the critical care unit.
Mariah was a four-year-old Siberian husky who arrived on Dec. 6 at the OHS pregnant with nowhere to turn. Because of you, though, Mariah did have a warm place to go, here at the OHS. Shortly after her admission, Mariah gave birth to nine puppies, named by the staff for Santa's reindeer. Mariah's puppies should be ready for adoption second week of February, mom may take a little longer, as she needs to recover from nursing.
Mariah and her puppies before Christmas.
Mariah and her puppies on Jan. 10.
Mariah's puppies on Jan. 10.
All these animals owe you a special thanks for their lives and their second chance. Since they cannot speak for themselves, I want to do it for them. To all of you that were touched by these stories and stepped up to help Chili, Ramsey, Penny, Lilly, Mia, and Mariah, and the close to 10,000 others that need you every year, thank you. 

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, January 19, 2017

No Animals were Harmed?

Disturbing footage shows a terrified German shepherd
apparently being forced into a tank of torrential water.
I have always been reassured by that disclaimer at the end of films. You know the one: "No animals were harmed in the making of this film." I pictured dedicated animal welfare staff on set observing filming at all times, approving any stunts and training techniques, monitoring of animal's welfare, in short, providing diligent oversight to give the disclaimer meaning.

Revelations from the set of the film A Dog's Purpose, shot in Winnipeg in late 2015, suggest that I have been naive. Footage has surfaced showing a terrified German shepherd apparently being forced into a tank of torrential water. Later footage suggests the dog was in genuine distress once in the stream, appearing to nearly drown.

Complaints have been made to the Manitoba authorities, and I have no doubt that appropriate steps will be taken. But what happened in the first place? Why doesn't that famous disclaimer mean what I thought it meant? And why was I so complacent? I know, probably better than most, that money trumps animal welfare whenever animals are used in entertainment.

Ironically, this week, Barnum and Bailey announced that they are shutting down after 150 years. Great news for animals. But not a great time for complacency.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thanks OHS Dog Walkers!

It’s been a mild couple days but Ottawa has seen some wild weather this winter, from temperature extremes to snow storms.  

I avoid going outside if the temperature drops much below freezing. That is why I am all the more impressed to look out my window and see our faithful dog walkers circling the building, a joyous dog hopping along in front of them, day in and day out.

This winter, we have suffered through snow, freezing rain, exceptionally high winds—you name it. But the dog walking volunteers arrive like clockwork to ensure our dogs get fresh air, exercise, basic training and relief from the kennels.

It is one thing to walk five or six dogs on a warm sunny Saturday afternoon, but the dogs need to get out at 8 am on blistering cold Tuesday mornings, too.
Everyone at the OHS is indebted to the hearty souls that bundle up and endure the worst winter weather for the sake of the dogs. 
Bruce Roney
OHS Executive Director 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Filling the Pages in 2017

I've never been much for New Year's resolutions. I never kept them. That said, there is something to a new year that feels like a blank page. Doesn't it feel a bit like when we used to start school in September with clean blank notebooks just waiting to be filled?

So, rather than feeling like I have to make empty promises to myself in the form of resolutions, I am thinking about what I want those blank pages to be filled with. There are a few things I want in 2017 for the animals in the care of the Ottawa Humane Society:

More permanent solutions; fewer band-aids for problems;

More research; less guessing;

More lives saved; less pain for animals; and

I want the OHS to receive — and be deserving of — more notes like this one, sent by an adopter and donor in December, because these make all the work worthwhile:

"... I never boast about the fact that I am a PAW donor, but I have had a chance to use your services for my own needs. Never have I been so proud. I do not want to dwell on the fact, but I will not be stopping the contributions. I loved what I saw, and you and the staff should be proud as well. I saw a lot of happy families, and even saw an older gentleman on Sunday sitting at the tables studying or reading there, and truly seemed to enjoy his time.

Thank you and the OHS for what you have done. You have united two best friends together."

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

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