OHS Mission and History

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To inspire and mobilize people to create a community in which all animals enjoy, as a minimum, five essential freedoms.


To lead Ottawa in building a humane and compassionate community for all animals.


The Ottawa Humane Society was founded in January 1888, when a group of women formed the Women’s Humane Society of Ottawa. This organization helped enforce the new animal protection laws and focused on bettering the lives of neglected children by lobbying for legislation to provide for foster homes.

In 1896, this group evolved into the Ottawa Humane Society and the Children’s Aid Society was established to assist needy children in our community.

In 1979, the Ottawa Humane Society was renamed the Humane Society of Ottawa-Carleton. The organization returned to the Ottawa Humane Society in 2001, when Ottawa-Carleton was amalgamated into the new City of Ottawa.

The Ottawa Humane Society began construction of its present facility in June 2010, which was completed in June 2011.

Read about our first 125 years of history.

Today, the Ottawa Humane Society’s work extends far beyond caring for lost, unwanted, sick and injured animals. The organization is a community leader, creating learning opportunities and engaging with the community to help pet owners better care for animals. The OHS reaches out to children and youth — the community’s future pet owners — directly in classrooms and through innovative programs to provide hands-on experiences and shape the next generation of compassionate people. The OHS advocates for continuous improvement in animal welfare and works closely with policy and decision-makers to ensure there is always a voice for the voiceless.

The OHS constantly seeks new ways to provide even more specialized care to animals with increasingly complex needs. It further enhances services for all animals by developing and expanding community partnerships — returning more animals to health and finding their perfect forever home. This level of care extends to pet owners in the community through specialty consultations for those who are struggling with their pet’s behaviour, a pet food bank to help keep families together during times of financial crisis, and accessible, affordable microchip and spay/neuter services to improve pet welfare throughout Ottawa.

All of this is only possible through the support of a caring community. The OHS relies on donations from the public to provide exceptional services for the animals and the community.

Directed by a volunteer board of 15, the organization employs more than 100 staff with animal care, outreach workers and administrative staff, supported by a large dedicated group of volunteers.