June 11, 2020

Caring for Animals Like we Cared for Each Other

Ottawa has begun to open up because of the extraordinary measures that we have taken as a community to protect not only ourselves, but also other people. A lot of the people I know are excited about getting a haircut, going to the beach, or sitting on a patio. Small things, that, as Joni Mitchell put it, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

I know that at least some people are probably thinking they can visit us here at the OHS, now that Ottawa has entered phase two. There is nothing I would like more than to welcome our community back into the shelter. Sadly, it’s not yet possible. Yes, we have opened up physically-distanced adoptions by appointment. And yes, we remain open for animals in distress, as we have throughout the crisis. But if we are to remain available to care for animals in distress, either because of COVID-19, or simply during the crisis, like hospitals, we have to be extremely careful about planning our opening.

We have divided our animal care staff into two teams, who are scheduled separately. This protects the staff by limiting the number of co-workers they come into contact with. It also protects our ability to care for animals in distress. If one team has to be isolated because of the virus, there is another healthy, virus-free team to care for the animals.

The result is, we are only able to be at half capacity, even in our normally very busy summer. That means we have to continue to limit admissions only to animals in distress. Our normal summer intake of 30 or more animals a day — most of whom are healthy and not in distress — would quickly overwhelm our available resources. We could not be here for the animals that really need us.

So, we are asking our community to be patient as you have been over the past three months to protect human health. We are asking you to hold onto the pet you planned to surrender. We are asking you to assess whether an animal is truly in distress, and help us keep the resources for those that truly need our care right now.

Ottawa has been outstanding in protecting humans by being patient and doing the right things. It’s why there weren’t even more deaths in this community. It’s why, as of Friday, we will be able to get a haircut or visit a beach.

Please do no less to protect the animals.

Bruce Roney
President & CEO