Ottawa Humane Society Blog
Ottawa Humane Society
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.
email@example.com (Ottawa Humane Society) -- Wed, 07 Jun 2017 19:03:00 +0000
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.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Ottawa Humane Society) -- Thu, 01 Jun 2017 20:49:00 +0000
What Will Your Legacy Be?
Leave a legacy for Ottawa's animals As I get a little older, like many people, I start to imagine the world after me. Will people remember me kindly? Will I be remembered at all? Will I leave, in the words I heard recently from Buffy Sainte-Marie, "Something of lasting value beyond myself"?
I'd like to think that I will have left a legacy: the people and animals helped through three careers, a life-saving animal shelter, a tree planted in recognition of a gift toward getting that shelter built.
Building this shelter is a part of many people's legacy. And saving lives is a part of many more. Each year, the kindness of people who remember the animals in their will allows the OHS to make major purchases such as emergency vehicles and surgical equipment that save lives and simply could not be afforded any other way. Their kindness allows us to launch projects that will save animal lives in the future without risking the lives of animals that need us today.
When people tell us of their intention to remember the animals in their will, we honour their kindness with a place in the OHS 1888 Legacy Giving Society
. Their names appear on our legacy wall, revealed at a induction ceremony held each spring. It is a solemn thank you. And I hope it is a reminder of the legacy that everyone present is leaving, a better life for animals and a kinder, more compassionate community, something of lasting value beyond themselves.
email@example.com (Ottawa Humane Society) -- Thu, 25 May 2017 15:50:00 +0000
Disasters and Their Lessons
OHS was at the ready to take any animals displaced by
the recent flooding. Julie Oliver/Postmedia Disaster relief has been on my mind a lot lately, mainly because of the tragic sight of homes under water from recent flooding and our preparation at the OHS to help the animals made temporarily homeless as a result. Coincidentally, May 14 was National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, and our partner, Hills Science Diet, has been reminding us to share information with you about preparing for a disaster with your pet
All this has brought to mind a dinner with my good friend Kate, who had been in charge of one of the temporary animal housing facilities set up in Louisiana following hurricane Katrina. I learned a lot from her that night about what to do and what not to do in a disaster, particularly when it comes to animals. I even learned a new acronym: S.U.V. SUVs, as I came to know, are often the biggest logistical nightmare for those leading disaster relief. SUV stands for Spontaneous Unsolicited Volunteers. While clearly responding with the best intentions, those who showed up on site to help were the biggest single problem she faced. So much so, she had to plead for weeks with anyone in authority for fencing; not to keep dogs in, but to keep would-be volunteers out.
Another big problem was donations. Yes, donations. As the SUVs started streaming in, so did truckloads of donated stuff. Most of the stuff wasn't what was needed. But even un-needed stuff needs to be gone through, organized, and stored in some form. There was no capacity to dispose of anything and stuff was coming in daily — literally by the ton.
It was a long and fascinating evening with Kate. She shared so many stories about Katrina, its aftermath and her role in helping. I am grateful that I learned a lot that night about being a part of the solution, rather than contributing to the problem. The two most important lessons were these: offer and stand ready to go, but don't go until asked, and donate cash not stuff, unless you are asked for stuff.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Ottawa Humane Society) -- Thu, 18 May 2017 14:39:00 +0000
Hazel: A Reminder and a Symbol
Hazel This is Hazel. She is a seven-year-old long-haired domestic tabby. Other than being a very beautiful cat, there is not so much special about her. Except this: she is the 200,000th animal in our computerized database.
So what does that mean? She is obviously not the 200,000th animal to come into our care. Our database only goes back to 2002. The Ottawa Humane Society has surely cared for many more hundreds of thousands of animals since our founding in 1888.
For me, Hazel is a reminder and a symbol.
She is reminder of just how many animals need the OHS every single year. The great news is the numbers are slowly dropping. But there are still close to 10,000 animals who have nowhere else to go that still rely on us every year. And caring for that many animals remains a tremendous effort on our part and on the community that supports us.
She is a symbol of how far the OHS has come in helping Ottawa's animals. Hazel was admitted to the OHS as stray at 6 p.m. on the March 28. She was returned to her owner shortly after noon on the 30th — just 36 hours later. This isn't typical. Most years only six per cent of cats are reunited with their families. But Hazel's family saw her on the OHS website and called. Her family also decided to have her microchipped before she left, so she will have permanent identification should she ever get lost again. Technology is helping us reunite animals with their families.
Had Hazel not been returned to her family, she would have received excellent care and almost assuredly, a new forever home, having received all the loving care she might need to get there. This was once simply not possible for so many animals. The first animal in our database may not have been so lucky to receive the care that Hazel did. Hazel is a symbol of what we can do for animals with a little ingenuity, a lot of work and the support of our community.
email@example.com (Ottawa Humane Society) -- Thu, 11 May 2017 15:44:00 +0000
Quebec and Pit Bulls: Another Province Looking for a Quick Fix that Doesn't Work
The OHS could not rehome Alice, the pit bull terrier
pictured above, because of Ontario legislation, but could
transport her to Quebec. This will end if Bill 128 passes. Quebec has proposed new legislation to ban certain dog breeds. The focus of course, is pit bull terriers, as it was in Ontario more than a decade ago. In some ways, the Quebec legislation — Bill 128 — is even scarier, as it leaves the breeds to be banned open for future addition. That is, this or future governments will be able to add other breeds to the list much more easily: by regulation, not by legislation. Already, the Quebec government has identified Rottweilers as another breed they will target.
So, why should you care?
You should care because breed bans don't work . I was unable to obtain statistics for Ottawa, but the City of Toronto reports that the number of dog bites are up since the much ballyhooed legislation was introduced in 2005. Yep, you read that right: up, not down. In fact, a Global News report in February 2016, found that Toronto’s reported dog bites have been rising since 2012, and in 2013 and 2014 reached their highest levels this century, even as pit bulls and similar dogs neared local extinction.
You should care because other breeds will be next. The breed most commonly biting before the legislation? German shepherds, followed by pit bull and Jack Russell terriers. And the number one biter a decade later? Also German shepherds, now followed by Labrador retrievers and Jack Russell terriers.
It's better to be a pit bull terrier in Ottawa, but only for now. The City of Ottawa has taken the approach that the legislation should be used to address individual situations and have, as yet, not enforced the global ban. The Ottawa Humane Society has refused to participate in mass euthanasia of a breed. We address dogs as individuals, not simply as breeds. Since pit bulls cannot be legally adopted in Ontario, we rely on out-of-province transfers, many to Quebec. If this legislation passes, the OHS and other humane societies in Ontario will have fewer options for rehoming safe pit bulls.
So what does work?
Many jurisdictions have researched good solutions to the real problem of dog bites and have concluded that legislation to prevent dog bites and to manage aggressive dogs should focus on the individual dog and the owner not the breed.
In 2012 the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) commissioned a report into the causes behind aggressive dogs. The report found that there was little evidence to support banning particular dog breeds as a way of addressing canine aggression in the community. Instead, education of the public and legislative tools that equip animal management authorities to identify potentially dangerous individual dogs offer the best results in reducing incidents with aggressive dogs.
The report found that any dog of any size, breed or mix of breeds has the potential to be aggressive and to be declared dangerous so dogs should not be declared dangerous on the basis of breed or appearance. Each individual dog should be assessed based on its behaviour. It added that the role of the dog owner is a critical factor.
Genetic predispositions are an important factor in animal behaviour, however the impact of the environment and learning are also critical. The tendency of a dog to bite is dependent on at least five interacting factors:
heredity (genes, breed)
socialization and training
health (physical and psychological) and
What can you do?
You can write the Minister of Public Safety, Martin Coiteux, especially if you are a Quebec resident. Tell him that breed bans don't work, and that animals will lose their lives needlessly under his legislation. Tell him that you are concerned about human safety, but that there is a better way.
The minister can be contacted at:
Ministère de la Sécurité publique
Tour des Laurentides, 5e étage
2525, boulevard Laurier
Québec (Quebec) G1V 2L2
firstname.lastname@example.org (Ottawa Humane Society) -- Tue, 02 May 2017 14:38:00 +0000
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.
email@example.com (Ottawa Humane Society) -- Thu, 27 Apr 2017 14:24:00 +0000
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 Air
, Clean 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.
P.S. To read more about the fascinating history of Earth Day, please visit its website
firstname.lastname@example.org (Ottawa Humane Society) -- Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:39:00 +0000
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
email@example.com (Ottawa Humane Society) -- Thu, 13 Apr 2017 13:58:00 +0000