December 8, 2017

“No good deed goes unpunished”

– Clare Boothe Luce

OHS Holiday Delivery Program participants welcome their new family member on Christmas morning. John Major/Ottawa Citizen

Nine years ago I was speaking with a colleague from another humane society sometime in December. He mentioned that his shelter recruited volunteers during the holidays to deliver pets on Christmas morning. I frowned and retorted too quickly, “We don’t adopt pets as gifts.”

“That’s not what we are doing,” he replied as he rolled his eyes ever so slightly. “These pets have already been adopted by responsible parents, following all of our usual procedures. We are just delivering them on Christmas, so the children can be surprised.” Then he laughed, “This way parents don’t have to wrap a kitten on Christmas Eve.”

Ahhh. Then I got it. What an amazing idea! The media would be interested in this story. It would promote adoptions. It would help us better compete against pet shops. Volunteers would love it. We could include Hanukkah.

So, for the past eight years, the OHS has had a Christmas Delivery Program. Children are delighted. Parents are happy. Volunteers love doing it. Animals find forever homes. And it is a nice thing to do. It is a good deed for our community.

Unfortunately, like I did, from time to time people misinterpret the program and assume that the OHS is adopting pets as gifts or that we support the practice. Or they assume that we have not talked to parents about how busy their home is at the holidays, or what they need to do to prepare their home for a new pet. They become angry, even outraged. But we don’t adopt pets as gifts, and we don’t support the practice. And we do assess whether this is a good time for that family to welcome a new member and always counsel adopters on how to prepare.

But here is the thing: in the end, we just want to do a good deed.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director