July 16, 2020
With the province’s announcement that Ottawa will be entering phase three of reopening, most of us are thinking about our lives returning to something that at least resembles normal. The prospect comes with equal doses of exhilaration and concern; exhilaration at doing things we have been unable to do for so long and, concern about contagion and the possibility of a new round of lockdowns if it doesn’t go well.
The OHS is an essential service. We have had to continue to be here for animals in distress, either because their owners were too sick to care for them or just because they had the misfortune of being hit by a car or being the victim of another mishap during the crisis. This said, while dogs on the loose are always in danger, we know that loose cats are not always in immediate distress and that many will simply go home eventually. Asking the city and the public to leave healthy cats where they were was a strategy to keep the number of animals to a manageable number in our shelter.
You see, to protect both our staff and our ability to care for animals, our animal care staff have been divided into teams—an A and a B team—and these teams alternate shifts, so that they do not come into contact with one another. Not only does this help protect the staff themselves by limiting their contact with one another, if someone on a team falls ill, the second team could be called in to feed and care for the animals while the rest of the affected team remain isolated. It’s a good plan, but a typical day in the warmer months could lead to an intake of 30 or more animals — most not in distress. We simply would have not been able to sustain this plan and other health and safety protocols and at the same time, remain available for the animals that truly need our care right away.
The OHS continues to care for animals in distress and with phase three, we are developing plans to accept more animals in the coming weeks. We continue to offer adoptions, albeit physically distanced and by appointment, and several of our off-site adoption locations have agreed to accept cats for adoption at their premises.
There have been a tremendous number of changes in our country, our province and our community because of this health crisis. A lot has changed at the OHS too, but caring for animals that most need us is not one of them.
President & CEO