January 23, 2020

The Little Ones: Not Forgotten

Over the years, the Ottawa Humane Society has increasingly invested in the behaviour and emotional well-being of the animals in its care. The introduction of hide and perch boxes for cats was one milestone. Daily, rotating, enrichment activities for dogs was another. Enrichment is roughly defined as, “enhancing animals’ environments by providing them with opportunities that stimulate their natural behaviours.” Planned, systematic enrichment is one of the keys to maintain animal health and well-being, and moreover ensures that we live up to our name as a humane society.

Sadly, as so often is the case, we turn our attention to the littlest of our residents last: the hamsters, the mice, the gerbils, and all the other small critters in our care. With the hiring of a manager to oversee the behaviour and emotional well-being of all the animals at the OHS, we finally have a qualified person with the time to extend our planning to the little ones.

Not to say that these animals had no enrichment until now. All the cages have had at least one species-appropriate activity for their resident. It’s just that the enrichment never changed. It wasn’t planned, that is, put into standard practice, and rotated regularly, and so not as effective and not as humane.

This is all changing this month with the introduction of a full small animal enrichment program at the OHS. Henceforth, the little ones will have the same access to the same positive health and well-being benefits of enrichment that their cat and dog big brothers and sisters do.

Bruce Roney
President & CEO