Thursday, June 29, 2017

Canada Day: When More Animals Need Us Than Any Other Day

Most dogs are terrified of fireworks
We're just a few days away from what is the busiest day of the year at the Ottawa Humane Society: Canada Day. Why Canada Day? There are a few reasons: First, Canada Day is a very busy day helping dogs brought into our care. This is mainly because of the many fireworks displays on July 1st: the big one on Parliament Hill, and the many smaller ones throughout the City. And the 150th celebration means this year there will be more and bigger fireworks displays than we have seen in 50 years. The thing is, most dogs are terrified of fireworks. Even the best trained, never-wanders dog can bolt in fear during fireworks displays and end up at our shelter.

Second, late-June, early-July is our peak season for animals surrendered to us by their owner. As holidays approach, and vacation plans develop, sadly, many decide that their dog or cat doesn't fit with those plans. The result? Hundreds surrendered to the OHS each June and July. When added to an already busy time with many stray animals requiring our care, we can see as many as 40 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens admitted to our shelter every single day!

You can help make sure that animals are safe, fewer need our care, and those that do, find their way home or into a new loving home by taking the following steps and trying to ensure that your friends and neighbours do the same:

  1. Keep pets indoors Canada Day.
  2. Make sure pets have a visible collar and tag and a permanent microchip implant.
  3. Plan for holidays for your pets. Help others care for their pets when away.
  4. Ensure all pets are sterilized.
  5. Adopt a homeless animal at the OHS.

From all of us at the Ottawa Humane Society, have a safe and happy Canada Day!

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, June 15, 2017

You and I Can End Kitten Season

Every kitten season, the OHS helps hundreds of kittens like Stewart.
We call it kitten season. And at the OHS, we make a lot of our plans around it — extra hiring, more supplies, extra budgeting, volunteer recruitment. It doesn't always happen at the same time each year. Sometimes the weather affects the date it will arrive. An early spring often means an early kitten season. In the past few years it has come later in the spring, even in June. But come it does, every year. It comes suddenly too. Generally in a matter of days. One Thursday, we will have 90 cats in the shelter and on the following Monday there will be 160.

What is kitten season? It is when the boxes of kittens start appearing at our door, and the number of cats and kittens needing care soars. Last year, for example, the OHS took in an average of 17 animals a day in January. By July, the number pretty much doubled to 33. On some peak days, it can be 45. It is an enormous task to care for all those animals and it severely stretches our resources. But we get through it, and because of our donors coming through for them, so do the cats and kittens — who end up in loving homes.

I would like to see a permanent end to kitten season. The key, of course, is spaying and neutering. And beginning last fall, with the launch of our mobile spay/neuter vehicle, the OHS is spaying and neutering Ottawa's cats in a big way. Studies tell us that, in a city the size of Ottawa, completing 6,000 spay and neuter surgeries a year will result in a precipitous drop in the number of homeless and unwanted cats, and so that is the number we are working toward.

So, these our simple goals: end kitten season for good and in the meantime care for these little ones that need us — and you. If you are reading this article it is because you care. If you want to make a difference, you can adopt, volunteer or donate. Together, we really can make a difference.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Stop the Bull

A friend contacted me last night to make sure I was aware that bull riding is coming to Ottawa this Friday. I wasn't aware and I was horrified. The promoters are billing it as “Man vs. Beast,” but it’s really an animal cruelty showcase that has no place in our community.

Bull riders use electric prods, spurs and straps tightened around the animal’s abdomen/genitals to make the bull buck and charge — they’re bucking to stop the pain. It’s a lifetime of torment that begins when the youngest bulls are chosen with criteria that weeds out all but those with the most hysterical reaction to the suffering.

This event is inhumane and I am hoping you will boycott it and spread the word to your networks that these practices are abusive, cruel and have no place in our community.

I also hope you will tell City Council that Ottawans vehemently oppose the cruel treatment of animals and that these events are not welcome here by signing the petition now.

Together, we can make our community free of these horrific events.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Blurring the Line

Subsidized spay/neuter means that pets of low income families can
benefit from the health and behavioural benefits of spaying
and neutering and will not contribute to pet overpopulation.
Traditionally, the OHS and most, if not all, humane societies had a pretty deep "line in the sand" between "owned" animals and those that were homeless. That is, our message to owners was that you are responsible for your pet — period.

About fifteen years ago, we started to relax some of our views, in particular on the issue of euthanasia. We used to push back, saying you should see your veterinarian, who has been caring for your pet for its lifetime, for this final act of kindness. But the number of calls regarding the urgent need for euthanasia began to increase, with desperate and cash-strapped families telling us they had been quoted in the many hundreds of dollars, a euthanasia they simply could not afford. Further, many pets in need had never seen a vet. So, now we will perform needed euthanasia, for a fee that is affordable in situations where an animal is likely to suffer otherwise.

Since then, our thinking and the thinking of the progressive parts of the humane movement has continued to change and I hope expand. In our research for the new OHS strategic plan, we came to the reality that "owned" animals need us too and that the old line in the sand was blurry.

It became clear that the biggest, and most important need was for accessible, subsidized spay/neuter. And so, we launched our mobile spay neuter program and vehicle so that low-income families could have their pet sterilized. I have heard many times, by the way: "People who can't afford pets should not have pets." Okay, and a part of me agrees. But here is the thing: people who can't afford pets have pets. It is not okay if our judgments allow those pets to suffer. We can at least ensure that pet has the health and behavioural benefits of spaying and neutering and does not contribute to animal overpopulation. Education is a part of the program, and we hope that people will leave with not only a sterilized pet, but also with better knowledge about caring for her.

In the coming months and years, our strategic plan calls for further programs to assist pets in our community, not just in our shelter. We now know the social, mental and physical health benefits of pets in our lives. If we know this, then we also know that keeping healthy pets in families has a benefit for our whole community.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

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