Getting back among our furry friends
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Getting back among our furry friends

[File Photo/Leah Gerber]

It’s time to get your fill of wags, barks, scratches, licks and whiskers, because after two years weathering the pandemic, the humane society is fully re-opening to the public.

This means people can come and visit the animals (though preferably with an appointment), kids programs and activities are starting again, the annual fundraiser gala and other in-person fundraisers are back on, and the society is looking for more foster homes, volunteers and adopters.

The Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo Stratford and Perth sees thousands of animals a year. In 2019, nearly 3,000 animals came through the doors, said Calla James, the director of community engagement and outreach.

Calla James, the director of community engagement and outreach of the Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo Stratford and Perth cuddles with Meadow the kitten. [Leah Gerber]

When the pandemic first hit, staff at many humane societies prepared to receive more animals than usual due to people’s livelihoods being affected by the pandemic, or because people might have bought a pet for which they couldn’t care, said James.

But, “that’s actually not what we’re seeing,” she said. Instead, the pandemic sparked interest in the society’s work and foster program. In 2019 the society had 67 foster families, but that number has since grown to 185.

The pandemic did impact the organization’s funding. It receives no government funding, and is dependent on donations and revenue-generating activities, said James.

“[The pandemic] was definitely a moment of [asking] how we’re going to pivot, that word of 2020, to make sure that we can still have our funding initiatives,” she said. 

“We value and need people’s support however they can give it,” said James.  This includes the gift of time. “Now that we’re coming out of the pandemic, we can look at volunteer roles.

“We’re always looking for fosters.”

Currently the organization is especially looking for rabbit foster families.

After the first weekend of April, staff at the Kitchener location came to work to find five rabbits abandoned on the property. Another was found two days later in a nearby truck engine.

“Thankfully we were able to get it out safely,” said James.

Those rabbits brought the total to 44 stray and surrendered rabbits to the society so far in 2022, with another 34 on a waiting list for spots. Typically the society might receive 80 stray or surrendered rabbits in a year.

Other services the humane society provides to residents include help to source pet food and litter, very low cost or even full coverage for spaying and neutering cats and dogs, especially cats and barn cats, and veterinary services including microchipping, rabies clinics or cremation services. The society also provides accessible vet outreach for community members in need, and emergency boarding services for people experiencing an emergency and need help to care for their pets.

Also on offer is a transfer program to find homes for dogs from places with high dog populations across North America, such as Northern Ontario or the southern United States.

Between the Kitchener and Stratford locations, the agency has two surgical suites with three-bed capacity, one x-ray machine and one dental x-ray machine. There are three full-time vets, seven supporting staff and access to specialty surgeons, said James.

Besides facilitating adoption, helping people afford care for their animals and providing veterinary services, the humane society also runs events and activities including birthday parties, vets-in-training clubs for kids and teens, virtual drop-in sessions for teens to learn about animal advocacy, yoga with cats, summer camps, PD Day and holiday activities and even paint nights.

“We want people to know, we are your humane society. Please call us,” said James.

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