August 5, 2021

A Crisis in a Crisis in a Crisis

The global pandemic has created multiple crises in our community, in Canada and across the world. The OHS has not been immune — the last 16 months have felt like our work has been full of small crises.

A growing crisis at the OHS is a lack of foster homes. Foster volunteers are a large and essential element of our spectrum of care for Ottawa’s animals. Some animals become stressed in the shelter and simply won’t recover unless we can place them into a caring foster home. Other animals need regular monitoring or even training, which is a challenge to undertake in a crowded shelter.

During the pandemic, the need for foster homes has never been greater. To ensure physical distancing amongst staff and our ability to care for animals in-distress who absolutely need shelter care, we have tried to move as many animals as possible into the community for care.

As of today, there are six dogs, 29 cats and six small animals in need of a temporary home. It’s a crisis.

The thing is, I don’t know why we are having this particular crisis right now. Over the years, we have had to run recruitment campaigns when our volunteer numbers were low, but our community had always stepped up.

Because of our efforts to help animals with increasingly complex needs, the face of fostering has changed. There are fewer boxes of nursing kittens, and more adult cats recovering from surgery; fewer shy dogs and more that may be possessive with toys and food. Even though our foster and intervention services teams provide training and support, foster volunteers today can face a greater challenge than in the past.

During the health crisis, I have read that people have taken up new hobbies and interests, from baking to home improvement, but helping to save lives through fostering hasn’t caught on. It’s the same story with our rescue partners and humane societies across the country.

I have often written that animal welfare is dependent on a marriage of a progressive municipality, a strong humane society and a caring community. Ottawa has never failed to be a caring community — until maybe now.

You can show you care, help with this crisis and save lives by opening your home and becoming a foster volunteer today.

Bruce Roney
President & CEO