March 8, 2024

The Hardest Choice a Family Can Make

Giving a pet away is not easy. Our team sees it every day. The family who’s moving and cannot bring their dog with them. A pet who needs extensive veterinary treatment that is out of reach for their people. A person who is facing sudden financial crisis and doesn’t know if they can afford to feed their cat or themselves. The family whose schedule became more complicated and they’re not able to be there enough for their rabbit.

There is a prevalent myth about surrendering a pet: that the person does not care about their companion. The reality is, deciding to surrender an animal to the OHS when caring for them is no longer possible is one of the most responsible and loving decisions a person can make.

Our intake lobby has seen a lifetime of heartbreak and tearful conversations. The relationship people build with their pets has changed dramatically over the years — for the better. By far, people no longer consider animals to be disposable; a dog, cat, rabbit or any other animal is a family member to be loved and cherished. Gone are the days of letting go of a pet simply because caring for them is no longer convenient.

The bond people build with their pet is beautiful, but it also means the decision to surrender a pet is shattering.

Today, I met a dog in our care whose owner gave her up last week, after he was evicted and had nowhere to turn. His was not a short-term problem, and so he placed his trust in the OHS to ensure a second chance for the animal he loved. I look forward to sharing with her owner, that within a few days, we had sterilized this sweet dog, and at time of writing, she was scheduled to meet a new family tonight!

While it’s not always possible, at the OHS, our goal is to strengthen the human-animal bond however we can, and to help keep pets with the people who love them. A pet food bank. Accessible wellness clinics and sterilization services. Programs and classes to help people learn more about their pet’s behaviour. These services work in concert to help families avoid crises and provide resources for people and pets to weather storms of all kinds.

Our community has made incredible progress for pets and their people, but there are still major challenges that drive families apart.

At the OHS, we are committed to tackling these obstacles head-on. We’re here for every animal in need, and our goal is to make sure that more animals never need to come to the shelter — that they can stay with the families who love them.

With the support of a caring community, the OHS is building a safety net for pets and their people. But, where we can’t help keep a family together, we are here to help make the heartbreaking decision to surrender a pet just a bit easier. We promise to do our best. Thank you for your trust.

President & CEO