Community Outreach Programs

Animal Education for Newcomers to Canada

Virtual workshops now available!

There are many big adjustments for families who have moved from other countries to Canada. Among differences such as language and climate, there are also cultural differences such as pet ownership and the role that animals play in our day-to-day lives. In collaboration with key community partners, the OHS has developed a series of informative presentations designed to support newcomers to Canada by answering frequently asked questions and introducing them to the role of animals, both wild and domestic, in our community.

Presentation topics include:

  • “Welcome to the OHS” Participants learn about what happens at the OHS and the role of the OHS in the community.
  • “Urban Wildlife in Canada” Participants learn about common wildlife in the Ottawa area, including common conflicts and how to co-exist.
  • “Dogs in Canada” Participants learn about the role of dogs in Canadian homes and communities, dog-related bylaws, dog-behaviour and body language, and dog-bite prevention.
  • “Pets in Canada” Participants learn about various pets commonly kept in Canada, pet care, and the role they play in Canadian homes and communities.
  • “Working and Living with Animals” Participants learn about animal-related careers, the role of pets in Canada, animal-related bylaws, and dog safety.

Presentations are now offered virtually! Content and presentation length are customizable, and all presentations include a live virtual animal visit! In-person events and workshops returning in 2022!

Age Suitability: All ages

Duration: One hour

Cost: Free!

Language: English or French – translators and interpreters are welcome to assist

Check out the video below to see a snap shot of one of our past in-person events, held at the OHS in partnership with Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO).  Attendees of all ages, from many different countries had the opportunity to learn about the role of the OHS and what to expect from dogs in Canada.

If you have questions or would like to book a virtual presentation for your group e-mail or call 613-725-3166 ext. 235.

Shelter Buddies

Research supports that a relationship with an animal encourages mental health in a non-threatening

manner. The OHS runs Shelter Buddies in conjunction with organizations that provide support services to at-risk youth.

This animal-assisted initiative promotes the human-animal bond and providing youth participants the opportunity to forge a healthy friendship with their canine partner while  learning about skills and strengths that they didn’t know they possessed, while developing personal responsibility, empathy, and self-esteem. It also increases the adoptability of harder-to-place shelter dogs through basic training and socialization.

Shelter Buddies is available to organizations that provide resources to or support at-risk youth who:

  • Have experienced anxiety and other mental health issues;
  • May be on the Autism spectrum;
  • Have demonstrated disengagement and/or behavioural challenges;
  • Have a passion for working with animals.

For more information about the Shelter Buddies program, or to find out if your organization/school meets the requirements to qualify for Shelter Buddies programming, please contact, or call (613) 725-3166, ext. 235.

Pet Savvy

Pet Savvy Pic

Pet Savvy workshops are offered to community groups free of charge in underserved communities within Ottawa, and workshops are approximately one hour in length. Workshops can be hosted at community centers, community houses, and other communal gathering locations for residents throughout the city. Participants can expect to gain valuable knowledge on a variety of preventative health-care topics, such as:

  • Grooming tips and tricks;
  • Parasites;
  • Toxic foods;
  • And more.

At the end of the workshop, all participants receive a complimentary gift bag (one per family) with take-away information and pet care essentials, such as tick removers, toothbrushes, nail clippers, treats and toys.

For more information about Pet Savvy programming, or to book a Pet Savvy workshop in your neighbourhood, please contact, or call (613) 725-3166, ext. 235.

Brightening Lives Animal Visits Program

BLAVThe Brightening Lives Animal Visits Program is a community service that began in 1986. Volunteers take behaviourally assessed, outgoing and friendly animals to hospitals, retirement residences and other long-term care facilities where they meet and interact with the residents. Some of these residents may not receive many visitors otherwise, so this program truly does help to brighten their lives. The Brightening Lives program also brings residents together, as they share a common bond — their love for animals.

The program promotes the value of animals in our community through bringing joy and happiness to individuals residing in hospitals, retirement residences, shelters and other long-term care facilities through volunteer and companion animal interactions.