October 3, 2019

Service Where it’s Needed Most

When I walk around the shelter, I see animals from all walks of life that are just trying to live their best life possible. In order to help these animals overcome the adversity with which they’ve been faced, the Ottawa Humane Society has created a new department: Intervention Services. This department complements the medical team by identifying all non-medical needs of the animals in OHS care. We are responsible for developing and implementing interventions that will help them succeed, and for creating progressive programming that prevents this need for intervention. These services will reduce the amount of time animals need to spend in shelter and improve our ability to help more animals.

I recently moved to Ottawa to help grow this department. Before moving I undertook the development and implementation of evidence-based standard operating procedures and programs for the municipal shelter in Surrey, BC. My career has been focused on creating interventions for thousands of animals and over a dozen species using the latest scientific research and best practices. I am always looking for opportunities to improve the services we provide. And that is at the heart of the new Intervention Services department.

What kinds of services do we provide? Take, for example, a scared cat that comes into the shelter. She is given standard daily enrichment yet remains in a constant state of fear. So she is enrolled in the Advanced-In-Kennel-Enrichment program and she starts to come out of her shell.  As she builds the confidence to explore her new environment, she starts feeling frustrated by her confinement. So she is enrolled in our Four-on-the-Floor program where she gets daily out of cage time to play and explore with volunteers. Now that she is no longer afraid or frustrated, she’s happier during adoption hours and visits with the families. This leads to her bonding with a young family that welcomes her into their home. An adoption match is made and we continue on to help the next animal in need.

Success stories like this are made possible by the growing team of animal experts working and volunteering in Intervention Services. We use the science of animal welfare and animal learning to help animals overcome their challenges, whether it’s relieving their fears, modifying inappropriate or aggressive behaviours, or keeping their minds engaged by teaching them new tricks! We embrace this task and look to constantly improve and refine the tools at our disposal to help animals succeed. We represent the point of view of the animal and advocate on their behalf, and we use science to do it. Success stories like this are also made possible by you. Without your support none of this would have been possible – so thank you! I’m looking forward to our work together to make Ottawa’s community a better place for all animals.

Tegan Macdonald
Manager: Intervention Services