October 15, 2020

Caring for the Special Ones

Since COVID-19 hit in March, our overriding concerns have been the safety of our staff and preserving essential services, specifically the absolute necessity for the Ottawa Humane Society to be able to care for animals in distress.

To help protect both, we divided our animal care team into two teams who never meet. This both reduced the chance of a large outbreak, and if one team should be out, the other can be called in to care for the animals at least in the short term. Of course, the reduced size of the two teams meant we could not care for as many animals on site.

To manage, we needed to reduce the number of animals in the shelter. Enter our amazing foster volunteers. We have been so grateful for their resolute commitment to the animals, taking in and caring for over 600 dogs and cats since mid-March. We could not have maintained the level of service that we have without these kind souls.

The sad reality is, though, even more animals need help. We need even more foster volunteers, especially for the animals that desperately need the care that a foster home can provide: shy and fearful cats that need to come out of their shell; fearful dogs; cats who won’t use their litterbox in the shelter; and, dogs who are sensitive to handing.

Take little Canelle, for example. She was surrendered by her family last January because she repeatedly urinated outside her litterbox. After OHS veterinary staff ruled out a medical cause, behaviour staff identified scented litter and loud, rambunctious children as likely causes. She was sent to a quiet foster home with OHS-supplied unscented litter. The foster family cared for her and monitored her urination for three weeks — and Canelle never once failed to use her box. She was adopted into an adult-only forever family with instructions regarding what litter to use and she lives there happily to this day.

Yes, these pets are often left behind because they are harder to care for, but they are the ones that really need you, especially if you are experienced with these issues. This care requires patience and consistency because that is what it takes to modify behaviour. The OHS provides the orientation and support along the way, if you are the special person who will commit to giving these special animals a second chance.

Our community has come together like never before during this health crisis. Our volunteers have come together to care for an astounding number of animals. Will you join the OHS foster team for the sake of a needy pet? I hope so. Because someone in here needs you.

Bruce Roney
President & CEO