December 7, 2017

Just the Facts.

As is so often in life, some of our greatest blessings are also our greatest curses. For me personally and my work at the OHS, this is the case for Facebook and other social media. Social media allows almost instant communication. It makes us less dependent on traditional media, and it is certainly far cheaper. This is the blessing. The curse — as we are realizing more and more — is the almost instant spreading of rumours, misunderstandings, half-truths, or even falsehoods.

Such is the case of the spread of rumours and misunderstanding being spread on Facebook regarding three feral kittens and their mother admitted by a limited-admission rescue who were unable to help the kittens or their mother and turned instead to the OHS.

So, here are the overall facts about the OHS:

The OHS is, and always has been, an open-admission shelter. That means we take any animal at any time, no matter how old, how sick or how dangerous, and no matter how full we may be. This is in contrast to limited-admission shelters or groups that only accept animals where a positive outcome is assured, or where a space or other resources are available, or some other limiting factor. We believe every community needs an open-admission shelter as otherwise, there is often nowhere else for animals to go.

This information is on our website. Every OHS customer service staff member is trained to explain this. Everyone who surrenders an animal to the OHS signs an agreement indicating they understand this.  Information sheets are available to take away that also explain this.

The OHS does not euthanize healthy adoptable animals, and brings many, but not all, unhealthy or behaviourally unsound animals to adoptability and forever homes. Many more animals are finding forever homes only because of the support of our community. Those that cannot be brought to adoptability are humanely euthanized by trained and caring staff. We do not take this decision lightly and we are transparent about this. Our statistics appear in our annual report.

The OHS follows all best practices in animal welfare available. This includes those regarding feral cats. In fact, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ Guidelines state specifically that, “For humane reasons, long-term confinement must be avoided for feral animals.”

Here are the facts of this case:

The complainant indicates she was not told that the OHS was an open-admission shelter, rather than a limited admission, so-called “no-kill” organization. This is not correct. The OHS has detailed staff notes on the surrender interaction, a signed surrender form indicating that she understood, and a recorded follow-up telephone call where this was explained. In fact, the recorded call reveals that it was a third party that provided incorrect information, not the OHS.

The kittens were kept a full ten days in a crowded shelter while our staff attempted to work with them. The risk of biting or scratching was assessed as too great to foster them. They remained in the care of the OHS Feline Coordinator, who has advanced training in feline behaviour. After the ten days, like the limited- admission rescue that brought them to the OHS in the first place, it was determined that we could not successfully or safely intervene to rehome them and that it was not humane to keep them in a high level of stress in the shelter.

For more information about the tragedy of feral cats, please visit our friends at Alley Cat Allies.  https://www.alleycat.org/

For more information about the issue open-admission shelters and “no-kill’, please visit: https://www.petful.com/animal-welfare/no-kill-shelters/

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

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