August 26, 2021

Welcome Back: Programs Reopening

This morning, I got to do something I haven’t been able to do for a year and a half: I greeted a volunteer. She was so happy and so was I. During the pandemic, to protect our staff and thereby our ability to care for animals, all but our super-essential foster volunteer program were suspended. Slowly, though, volunteers are returning and it’s wonderful!

OHS Obedience Class 2019

Last week, I wrote about the Shirley Kearns Memorial Adoption Centre reopening to visitors on September 8, and the life it will breathe into the OHS. But the OHS is much more than the adoption, centre and there are many other programs that need to be revived.

Of course, the new programs that were launched during and because of the pandemic: the Emergency Pet Food Bank and Partner Support Program will continue for the foreseeable future. Some other programs were moved online. Our Pet Loss Support Group will remain virtual for the coming months, as many participants have preferred this model. The OHS Scouts/Guides Program has continued successfully online and so we have not yet identified a date to resume in-person. Seminars will remain online until November.

Other programs offered on-site will require staff training and re-training and confidence in our ability to offer them safely, and so will be re-launched over time.

The OHS Newcomers Program, helping those who are new to the country navigate urban wildlife and pets in Canada, is expected to resume in fall 2021 for adults and in January 2022 for children.

Obedience Classes are expected to be available in-person in October and Pet First Aid Classes are expected to be available in late fall.

Pet Savvy, the OHS’s educational program for low-income pet owners, will restart in January 2022 and we are planning to resume the LEAD program for at-risk youth in November 2021.

Registration for programs for teens — the OHS Animal Advocate Program, Leadership Camp and Apprenticeship Program — is expected to resume in December 2021. For younger children and youth, the OHS is planning to resume school-based humane education programming and animal welfare clubs  in January 2022.

Because of the unknowns associated with the Delta variant in children, camps and birthday parties as well as field trips and child and youth tours will remain on hold until January 2022, with adult tours planned to resume in December 2021.

Sadly, for the safety of our staff and clients, and to comply with restrictions from the province and Ottawa Public Health, the Mobile Spay/Neuter Service will remain suspended for the time-being. We are eagerly planning to resume this important service safely as soon as possible. 

Because of concern about the ongoing risk to seniors, at this time, we don’t have a planned date for when Brightening Lives Animal Visits or Seniors Days at the shelter will resume.

The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. It has affected every part of our lives. It has affected the OHS and our plans to build a caring and compassionate community. I can’t wait to get back to those plans, because right now they are needed more than ever.

Bruce Roney
President & CEO