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FAQs from the Ottawa Humane Society

Adoptions

Services and Other

Funding

Volunteering

Iqaluit Program

Annual Meeting


Adoptions

Q: What are your adoption hours?

A: Shelter adoption hours are:
Monday to Friday – 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Q: Where are you located?

A: We are located at 245 West Hunt Club Road (map), in between Merivale and Prince of Wales.

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Q: How much does it cost to adopt a pet?

A: For a list of our adoption fees, please click here.

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Q: How do I adopt a pet from you?

A: Information on how to adopt a pet is available on the adoption page of our website.

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Q: What's the adoption process like?

A: As your local humane society, we have a responsibility to place animals in suitable environments that will promote loving bonds between adopters and their pets. Through our adoption process, we will help you find that perfect pet, the one that fulfills your expectations, and suits your lifestyle. An adoption counsellor will guide you to ensure that the adoption experience will prove positive for both you and your new companion animal. The long-term well-being of the animals in our care is our main concern; therefore, not all adoption requests may be successful.

As part of the process potential adopters are asked to complete a questionnaire. This questionnaire will supply the adoption counsellor with information about you, your lifestyle, and the type of pet you are looking for.

The Adoption Agreement you sign when you adopt an animal will clearly explain your obligations and responsibilities when you adopt an animal from us.

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Q:What do I need to bring with me to complete an adoption?

A:For all adoptions, you will need to provide a piece of photo identification for yourself with your current address. If you have recently moved, a piece of photo identification along with a utility bill, your lease or a bank statement will suffice.

Dogs and cats must go home wearing a proper collar. If you do not bring a collar with you at the time of adoption, you may purchase one at the OHS.

Cats, small animals and birds must go home in an appropriate carrier. If you do not bring one with you at the time of adoption, you may purhcase one at the OHS.

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Q: How many pets do you adopt?

A: Every day animals at the Ottawa Humane Society find new homes. In our 2009-2010 fiscal year, the Society found homes for 3617 cats, dogs and small domestic pets. We are proud of our efforts and are committed to placing 100 per cent of adoptable animals into new, loving homes.

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Q: Where do your animals come from?

A: Lost or stray animals, and pets surrendered by their owners make up the majority of the animals received at the OHS. If you have lost or found an animal, please visit the Lost and Found section of our website for more information and instruction. Animals are also admitted through Emergency Animal Protection Services.

Shelter Transfer Program
Our Shelter Assistance Program accepts animals from other humane societies, as far away as Kingston, Cornwall, and North Bay, among others. These animals are examined by a veterinary team before they are placed into our adoption program. As well, we are in an innovative partnership with Canadian North airlines to arrange for the safe passage of hundreds of dogs from Nunavut giving many of these animals a second chance at life. Of course, Ottawa's animals always come first and we only provide these services when the OHS has capacity.

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Q: How do you decide who is adoptable?

A: Our goal is to place 100 per cent of the pets received at our shelter. This can be quite a challenge because we accept all companion animals brought to us regardless of their health or temperament. Animals placed for adoption need to be of sound temperament and in good health and must be able to adapt to the shelter environment. Pets with a history of severe aggression or that show signs that they are likely to be dangerous in a variety of settings are not suitable for our adoption program. Animals that do not adjust to the shelter environment for whatever reason, are typically highly stressed, much more susceptible to becoming ill and more likely to demonstrate aggressive behaviour. Sadly, this often makes them unadoptable. While our team of animal health professionals ensure every medical option within our resources is explored in order to save an ill or injured animal, we also believe that it is not humane to keep an animal in a state of physical or emotional suffering when its prognosis is poor.

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Q: If an animal is deemed unsuitable for adoption, can its owner take it back?

A: No. The decision to surrender an animal is a final one. We believe that it would be irresponsible to rehome an animal with someone who had indicated, for whatever reason, that they were unable or unwilling to care for the animal.

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Q: How long do you keep animals?

A: We keep all healthy, adoptable animals as long as it takes to find them a new home. For some animals this can mean living at the shelter for six weeks or more until the right home is available. The length of stay for animals varies. No animal is ever euthanized solely due to lack of space or because the animal has simply “been here too long.”

The OHS has over 200 foster families who care for newborns, pregnant cats, and recuperating dogs until they are ready to be placed up for adoption. Our foster families cared for over 1540 animals in our 2009-2010 fiscal year!

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Q: Do you ever get purebred dogs or cats?

A: We do get purebred dogs and cats of all ages; however they tend to be adopted very quickly. If you are interested in a specific breed or type of pet, view the Profiles of Dogss and Profiles of Cats currently available for adoption. You may also contact the Adoption Centre to complete a "Pet Request".

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Q: Do you require spaying or neutering of adopted cats and dogs?

A: Yes! We are committed to ending pet overpopulation and consider spaying and neutering one solution to this tragic problem. The OHS in-house veterinary clinic's main goal is to spay or neuter all shelter cats and dogs, prior to putting them up for adoption. However, the occasional animal is not suitable for surgery prior to adoption.  Therefore, it will be the responsibility of the new owner to have the animal sterilized within six months of the adoption, by a veterinarian of the adopter's choice.  When the sterilization is complete, the refund voucher (found on the adoption contract) and proof of sterilization can be brought to the OHS for an $80 refund.

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Q: How do I surrender an animal to you?

A: Giving up an animal is never easy, for the owner or for the pet. Please visit our Giving Up a Companion Animal page for more information.

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Services and Other

Q: What's the difference between you and the OSPCA?

A: The Ontario SPCA (OSPCA) is the provincial body responsible for the administration of the Ontario SPCA Act. This Act gives humane societies the authority to investigate animal cruelty. The Ottawa Humane Society is affiliated with the OSPCA. This affiliation gives our agents and inspectors the authority under the act to investigate cases of animal cruelty. Both organizations are registered charities.

The Ottawa Humane Society is a dues-paying affiliate of the OSPCA, but receives no funding whatsoever to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty.

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Q: Are you a "no-kill" animal shelter?

A: The term "no-kill" is a misleading term. Most "no-kill" shelters select the types of animals they take in, bypassing those that are ill or of poor temperament or health. In order for the OHS to be considered "no-kill" we would have to limit the types and numbers of animals we accept. The OHS is an "open admission " animal shelter that offers shelter and care to animals regardless of age, health, temperament, or space available.

For more information on different kinds of animal shelters, please see http://www.westbynorthwest.org/fall00/lewis.shtml

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Q: Does the OHS euthanize animals?

A: Yes. Sadly euthanasia is part of the work we do. As an open admission shelter, the OHS does not turn any animal away, regardless of its health or behaviour. The OHS only euthanizes animals that are injured or ill — with no reasonable chance of recovery or whose needs are greater than our resources - or animals that are aggressive/overly dominant or have an unstable temperament, based on their history or as observed in the shelter or behaviour issues that we do not have the resources to resolve. We do not euthanize animals because they have been here too long or solely based on space constraints. No healthy, adoptable animal is ever euthanized. Unfortunately, some animals become highly stressed in a shelter environment, which makes them more susceptible to illness and, despite aggressive veterinary treatment, unlikely to recover from such illness. The OHS will not keep an animal in a state of suffering when its prognosis is poor or when it lacks the resources to restore the animal's health.

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Q: What kind of food do you feed the dogs and cats at the shelter, and do you need any?

A:As a shelter partner, we are exclusively feeding Hill's® Science Diet® to all the animals in our care. Food for our Emergency Pet Food Program is donated by generous members of the public. We do purchase special food for animals with allergies or other health issues. To donate an item and help the animals in our care, please check our Wish List.

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Q: Can you recommend a veterinarian for me to see?

A: Please check the Yellow Pages for Veterinary Clinics in your community.  Alternatively, you can visit the College of Veterinarians of Ontario website for a list of vets in your area:  http://www.cvo.org/regulat-reg-members.cfm.

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Q: How do I report animal neglect or cruelty?

A: To report a suspected situation involving an animal that may be abused or neglected, and in distress, please contact us at 613-725-3166 ext. 224 or email us and provide the following information:

  • Your name, address and telephone number for our records.
  • The date, time and place (address) of the offence.
  • The registration number and description of any vehicle involved.
  • The investigator will need to ask you a series of questions about the animal(s) involved to establish the full situation and will be the basic who, what, where, when, and why if possible. These will relate to what you have seen in relation to the animal's environment and its body condition.
  • All information is kept confidential but may be used in the event that a search warrant is required or if an offence has been committed and a charge recommended to Crown Counsel, in which case you may be called to give evidence.
  • The Ottawa Humane Society always aims to prevent cruelty through education and opts for court proceedings only as a last resort.

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Q: I found an animal. What should I do?

A: If you have found an animal, you cannot simply keep it. There may be a distraught family looking for the found pet! You can notify us that you have found an animal by completing our online Found Animal Report or by sending us an email. As well, advertise in the free 'found' section of the newspaper, put up posters in your neighbourhood and bring the animal to our shelter or a veterinary clinic to scan for a microchip implant. If you are unable to search for or have no luck locating the owner, please bring the animal to the Municipal Animal Shelter at the Ottawa Humane Society.

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Q: I've lost my pet. What do I do?

A: If you have lost an animal, please fill in our handy Lost Animal Report or send us an email. Please remember that the OHS receives thousands of lost animals every year. Submitting a complete lost report will help us to quickly identify some animals. If you are able to e-mail a digital picture, this will help us further, but many animals look alike!

Visit our Lost and Found page for more information on finding your lost pet.

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Q: Who do I call when I see a loose dog in my neighbourhood?

A: The City of Ottawa's By-law Services manage stray dogs in the city. They can be reached by phone at 3-1-1.

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Q: What do I do when I find a dead animal?

A: Different regulations apply to dead animals, depending on where the animal was found, and what kind of animal it is. If the animal's owner is not known, and the animal is on public property (such as the street or in a park), contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1. If the animal is on private property, please phone us at 613-725-3166 ext. 221 for instructions.

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Q: When there is the need to euthanize an animal, what happens to its remains?

A: The Ottawa Humane Society respects the bond people have for animals, and knows that it continues even when the pet is no longer alive. Under no circumstances do we release any animal remains to rendering plants or for medical research. The remains are respectfully buried.

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Q: Do you sell animals for scientific experimentation?

A: Under no circumstances does the Ottawa Humane Society ever give an animal for research. Please see the OHS position statement on research on companion animals.

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Q: Does the OHS accept donations of used stuffed toys for your animals?

A: Thank you for your kind offer but unfortunately stuffed toys are not good for our animals. Dogs may rip apart and ingest the stuffing and material, leading to potential medical complications. Dogs should only play with stuffed toys under human supervision. As well, the ripped stuffing can clog our drains! If you would like to donate something to help the animals in our care, please check the Wish List.

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Funding

Q: Do you receive money from my taxes?

A: The Ottawa Humane Society is a not-for-profit organization funded through charitable donations and is not funded by government.

The OHS does operate the Municipal Animal Shelter (MAS) under a purchase of service contract with the City of Ottawa. The OHS cares for injured, lost and homeless animals that are brought to the MAS by Municipal By-Law Officers, the general public, or our emergency services on a break-even basis.

Under the agreement, Ottawa By-law Services officers deliver animals that are roaming at large. These animals are held in the Municipal Animal Shelter operated by the OHS for a period of three full business days in order to allow their owners time to claim them.

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Q: What is the difference between you and other animal welfare organizations that solicit funds from me?

A: While some animal welfare organizations work to help all kinds of animals, what sets the OHS apart from national and international animal welfare organizations is that we operate the largest shelter in Ottawa that receives and houses animals locally. The OHS works directly with members of the community to find homes for homeless pets, help increase the value of companion animals, stop abuse and neglect, and solve training and behaviour difficulties. The OHS does not receive any government funding, or funding from any welfare group for this work.

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Q: If I make a gift to a national organization, do you receive a portion of my donation?

A: No. The OHS is a non-profit independent organization funded by the donations of individuals and businesses for animal welfare work in Ottawa. Funding for the OHS’s services and programs is received in the form of cash donations, bequests, trusts, and fees.

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Q: How can I help?

A: The OHS relies on donations of cash, time, and items. The OHS is a registered charity and as such your donation is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Your financial support helps us care for approximately 11,000 animals a year and offer programs and services to the community.

To make a gift, click here.

There are many ways you can volunteer to assist animals: Fostering, Office Support and Data Entry, Dog Walking, helping out with Special Events, Humane Education and Brightening Lives – Animal Visits programs.

Please visit the Volunteer section of this website for more information on the various ways you can make a difference in the lives of the animals.

To donate an item and help the animals in our care, please check our Wist List.

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Volunteering

Q: Do you accept all volunteers?

A: Unfortunately, not everyone can volunteer with us. We are looking for people with very specific skills. For instance, to help with data entry, volunteers must have experience with computers and have an extremely high accuracy rate. As a not-for-profit organization, we do not have the resources to offer extensive training and we rely heavily on the skills and experience of volunteers to support Ottawa's animals. If there is not a specific role where your talents can be used, then likely you will not be a good volunteer match for the OHS, but we encourage you to assist the organization in other ways such as participating in special events and donating to help the animals at the OHS.

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Q: Do volunteers do more than one thing?

A: Absolutely. We have volunteers working in our offices, walking dogs, assisting with special events, and supporting our outreach programs. We encourage volunteers to help out in programs that they are passionate about and best suit their skill set. The volunteer department will work closely with volunteers to ensure that the volunteer programming is a match. Visit our volunteer page to read more about our current volunteer opportunities!

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Q: How do I become a volunteer?

A: We ask volunteer candidates to review the volunteer section on our website and identify areas of volunteering interest. All volunteer candidates are asked to complete the application form available on the website and return it to the OHS. Volunteers matching the requirements for OHS volunteer programming will be contacted for an interview. Following the interview, volunteers will be asked to complete a criminal record check, which can take 4-6 weeks, and are scheduled for an orientation.

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Q: What's an orientation and how do I get one?

A: Orientations serve as general introduction to the OHS and some programs include role specific orientations (e.g. dog walking, fostering). Volunteer candidates are asked to complete the volunteer application available on the OHS website. Matching candidates will be contacted for an interview and candidates approved as volunteers will be registered for an orientation.

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Q: Why must I obtain a criminal record check before beginning my volunteer duties?

A: Volunteers play a strong role within the organization. They are working in a variety of capacities and many include working with vulnerable populations such as children and animals. In addition, we work hard to ensure the safety of the OHS community, which includes the animals, volunteers, staff, and the Ottawa community. Criminal record checks are a measure in place to uphold this high level of safety.

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Q: I want to try volunteering once or twice to see if I like it. Is that okay?

A: We ask our volunteers to commit for at least one year of work. Due to limited resources, we do not have the ability to provide training to volunteers who are unable to commit for a year. While we rely heavily on the skills and experiences that volunteers bring to the organization, we also train new volunteers. As a result, the training and experience gained in an OHS volunteer role is invaluable to the organization. It is very difficult sustain well-trained and experienced volunteers if they are leaving frequently.

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Q: Can I complete my high school community service hours at the OHS?

A: Unfortunately, we do not accept students volunteering to complete their community service hours. Our volunteer programs require a significant amount of experience and training and we do not have the resources to offer training to students who will be leaving after a short period of volunteer work. We expect that our new shelter will afford us the opportunity to expand our youth programming.

Not 18? You can still help! We always need volunteers to hold events to help raise funds for the animals in our care.

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Q: Are dog walkers a different 'breed' of volunteer?

A: Yes. Dog walkers must have significant experience with large dogs. Many of the dogs at the OHS are large and have had minimal or no training. As a result, these dogs can be difficult to handle. Also, OHS dogs need consistent walking, socialization, and exercise. Dog walkers must enjoy the extremes of Ottawa weather and commit to walking on a regular schedule, including on very cold days and very hot days.

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Q: Is it okay to volunteer so I can adopt an animal?

A: Volunteers are asked to fulfill their commitment to the programs they have chosen before they adopt. Volunteers must fulfill their role as volunteers for 6 months before adopting an animal. We put this policy in place to avoid having volunteers come to the OHS to adopt an animal and never return. Foster volunteers may not adopt the animals they foster.

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Iqaluit Program

Q: What is the Iqaluit program?

A: The Iqaluit program is an innovative partnership between the OHS, Canadian North airlines and many devoted volunteers. Established in 2002, the program provides hope and new homes for hundreds of northern animals.

Most weeks, municipal workers and volunteers in Iqaluit load homeless dogs in need onto a Canadian North plane, which flies the animals for free to Ottawa. Then, a team of local OHS volunteers travel to the Ottawa airport to pick up the animals and transport them back to our shelter.

All of the Iqaluit animals go through a standard OHS health and temperament assessment. Many of the dogs who arrive in Ottawa are pregnant; most are undersocialized and others are ill. As a result, many go through the OHS foster program before being placed for adoption.

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Q: Why do the dogs in Iqaluit need help?

A: With limited resources for animals in Iqaluit and no veterinarians in the entire territory of Nunavut, many dogs are unsterilized, starving and homeless. Countless others are shot in a bid to control overpopulation problems.

The sad reality in Canada's northern communities is that there are virtually no resources to address animal welfare and very few appropriate homes. At the OHS, we believe it is our responsibility to help animals in jurisdictions that are facing this reality. Thanks to the generosity of Canadian North airlines and our volunteers, we are able to provide this help without diminishing the care and attention we give to local animals.

Our hope is that Iqaluit will continue on its path of becoming a more humane society for all animals, and we will continue to assist them so that the need for this program will be lessened in the future.

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Q: Aren't there too many dogs already in Ottawa that need help?

A: Ottawa's animals always come first in our programs. Because Ottawa's dog owners are, as a whole, generally quite responsible, we do not see the overpopulation problems in dogs that we see in cats. Our capacity to adopt is greater than the number of dogs we have available for adoption, allowing us to assist other communities, such as Iqaluit.

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Q: How much does it cost to fly the dogs to Ottawa?

A: There is no cost to fly the dogs. Volunteers in Iqaluit put the dogs onto Canadian North Airlines which flies them to Ottawa for free - unaccompanied. The crates we use are generally donated. The OHS recruits volunteers to pick up the dogs at the airport. No OHS staff have had to travel to the north for this program.

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Q: What are the veterinary costs for the Iqaluit animals?

A: In the early days of the program, we provided some information for the Iqaluit volunteers to allow them to do some basic health and temperament assessment before transferring dogs. This means that the vast majority of dogs arrive healthy and do not require any unusual medical intervention. When medical procedures are required, our in-house clinic means we do not have to assume any additional veterinary bills, though, of course there are costs associated with staff time and supplies.

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Annual Meeting

Q: Is the Ottawa Humane Society’s annual general meeting open to the public?

As is standard practice for many annual meetings, the OHS annual meeting is open only to members of the organization.

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Q: Why does the OHS provide proxy forms for its annual general meeting?

A proxy vote allows another person to vote on a member’s behalf, with his/her permission, and the OHS provides proxy forms to all members so that those who are unable to attend the meeting in person may exercise his/her vote.

For more information on OHS membership: more >

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For answers to other questions about the OHS, please see the rest of our FAQ section. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for there, please e-mail ohs@ottawahumane.ca and an OHS representative will get back to you.