December 1, 2016

Always Room at the Inn


Animals like Chili — who’s been patiently waiting for a home since January — always have a place at the OHS.

At the core, there are two kinds of animal shelters: open admission and limited admission. When I say “shelter” I mean to include all groups that care for animals, not just physical ones. Many excellent groups have no physical shelter, but rely on a network of foster homes, rather than a building. The OHS of course has both. And the OHS is an open admission shelter.

Every community needs an open admission shelter — that is, a shelter that never says no. One that, no matter how sick or how dangerous they are, will accept all animals at any time. There always needs to be, “room at the inn.” I know what can happen when people cannot or will not care for an animal and have nowhere to turn. I saw it growing up in the country. And I want to make sure that never ever happens in our community.

It is not an easy task. Animal sheltering is seasonal, with huge numbers needing shelter and care in the warmer months. Some days, more than 40 animals will be admitted. The size of the shelter certainly helps, but we have had to create programs to ease the intense pressure on even this large facility. A network of 300 or so foster homes helps hugely. Our 30 or so off-site adoption locations ease the pressure considerably. And we have to keep the animals moving through the system. If treatments, assessments, spay/neuters and all the other essential services get bottlenecked, the shelter becomes overcrowded and that is an invitation to stress-related disease.

But here is what we don’t do: we do not euthanize for space. No healthy adoptable animal has been euthanized at the Ottawa Humane Society in a very long time. Once they are assessed as adoptable, they stay in our care until they are adopted. Period. And many more that were not adoptable when they arrived, become adoptable in our staff and volunteers’ loving care.

So, if you support the OHS and the animals in our care, thank you. Thank you for ensuring that this time of year especially, there is always room at the inn.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director