Position Statements

Domestic Companion Animals - Cats

Pet owners have a responsibility to their companion animal.  Companion animals depend on their owners to meet their needs.

The overpopulation of cats and the high rate of their abandonment are indications that cats are seen as disposable pets by many people.  Greater responsibility must be taken by anyone who acquires a cat.

The Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) believes that responsible cat ownership encompasses:

  • research about a prospective companion cat before making a decision;
  • appropriate housing, nutrition and exercise;
  • regular veterinary care, including vaccination and spay/neuter;
  • human attention on a daily basis;
  • safe and secure confinement to owner’s property and under control when off owner’s property;
  • proper identification;
  • adherence to municipal animal control bylaws.

The OHS believes that cats’ access to the outdoors must be limited to cat-safe enclosures and/or supervised excursions on a properly fitted harness.  Indoor cats have a much longer life expectancy and enjoy better health.  Their psychological wellbeing can safely be met indoors through games, toys and appropriate places for resting, hiding and viewing.

The OHS believes that cats can be trained and enjoy training provided positive reinforcement methods are used.  Cats also enjoy being groomed using cat appropriate grooming tools.  As enjoyable interactive activities, training and grooming enhances the pet owner’s bond with their companion cat.

Caring for a companion cat involves a commitment to the animal’s well-being for its lifetime

Approved by the OHS board of Directors August 2008

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Domestic Companion Animals - Dogs

Pet owners have a responsibility to their companion animal. Companion animals depend on their owner for their needs.

The Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) believes this responsibility encompasses:

  • research about a prospective breed before making a decision;
  • appropriate housing, nutrition, grooming and exercise;
  • regular veterinary care, including spay/neuter
  • human supervision and attention on a daily basis;
  • training using positive reinforcement
  • proper identification
  • safe and secure confinement to owner’s property and under control when off owner’s property;
  • adherence to municipal animal control bylaws

Caring for a companion animal involves a commitment to the animal’s well-being for its lifetime.

Approved by the OHS board of Directors August 2008

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Domestic Companion Animals - Small Animals and Birds

Pet owners have a responsibility to their companion animal.  Companion animals depend on their owners to meet their needs.  Many small animals and birds have unique dietary and housing requirements that must be understood.

The Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) believes this responsibility encompasses:

  • research about a prospective companion animal before making a decision;
  • appropriate housing, nutrition, grooming and exercise;
  • regular veterinary care, including vaccination and spay/neuter where appropriate;
  • human supervision and attention on a daily basis;
  • safe and secure confinement to owner’s property and under control when off owner’s property;
  • proper identification;
  • adherence to municipal animal control bylaws.

The OHS believes that for their psychological well being, small animals and birds should have daily supervised out of cage exercise in a safe room.  They also should have ongoing access to appropriate toys and hiding/resting places in their cage.

The OHS believes that small animals and birds can be trained using positive reinforcement methods. Training and grooming can enhance the pet owner’s bond with their companion small animal or bird.

Caring for a companion animal involves a lifelong commitment to the animal’s well-being during it’s lifetime.

For information on the selection, care and training of small animals and birds as companion animals, visit the Pet Tips section on the OHS website:

Approved by the OHS board of Directors November 2008.

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Spay/Neuter (Sexual Sterilization) of Dogs and Cats

Spay (female) and Neuter (male) of dogs and cats is a necessary requirement for both the effective control of the unwanted animal population as well providing benefits to animal health.

The OHS supports:

  • The sterilization of dogs and cats not intended for responsible breeding purposes.
  • Early (prepubertal) spay/neuter of cats and dogs.
  • That all licensing authorities offer differential rates for licensing and/or identification of sterilized versus unsterilized dogs and cats. Providing a rate differential has been proven to increase the number of spay/neutered dogs and cats, reducing the number of unwanted and abandoned dogs and cats, as well as the costs for municipal enforcement and animal control.
  • That all organizations involved in the sale or adoption of dogs and cats incorporate a spay/neuter program as part of their sale or adoption procedures.

Spay/neuter not only aids in reducing pet overpopulation but also carries additional behavioral and health benefits for dogs and cats. These benefits include the elimination of sexual behaviours (marking, aggression, roaming, etc) that can lead to traumatic injuries as well as a reduction in the risk of some diseases under hormonal influence (cancers, prostatic diseases). As for all veterinary procedures, owners should consult with their veterinarians to discuss the implications of and optimum age for spay/neuter for their pet.

Having your dog or cat spayed or neutered is not only an essential component of responsible pet ownership but also an important civic duty as a responsible citizen. Spay/neutering is the most effective means of decreasing proliferation of unwanted dogs and cats as well as providing considerable health benefits.

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Companion Animal Identification

Identification of dogs and cats is a necessary requirement for the successful return of lost or stray animals.

The OHS supports:

  • Proper licensing and identification of companion animals.
  • The use of collars and tags that provide fast visual recognition.
  • Microchip insertion as the PREFERRED method of identification as it provides permanent verification of ownership.
  • Tattoos that are humanely administered by qualified personnel causing little or no discomfort or distress to the animal are an acceptable, but less reliable, method of identification.

Each year too many families are devastated by the loss of their missing pet. Proper identification and pro-active searching will help aid in the return of companion animals.

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Companion Animal Training

Training companion animals sets the stage for a positive lifelong relationship.  Consistent and ongoing training allows owners to:

  • establish and maintain a trusting bond with their companion animal
  • teach new skills and gain better control of their companion animal
  • modify their companion animal’s unwanted behaviour
  • spend quality time with their companion animal

The OHS supports humane training that uses positive reinforcement.

The OHS supports training methods and equipment that do not frighten, inflict pain or are abusive.

The OHS believes that to build a trusting bond with their companion animal, the owner must be actively involved in the training process.

Read more information on dog training.

Read more information on cat training.

Read more information on crate training.

Approved by the OHS board of Directors November 2008.

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Crate Training

A common complaint about puppies (and older dogs) concerns the mischief created while the dog is alone in the house. From the young dog’s view, being alone may be stressful. It’s at this time that household damage may occur.

An excellent way to avoid the damage that can result from this stress is to confine the dog to a comfortable den-like enclosure. A good devise to use as his den is a collapsible wire crate.

Some people feel it is cruel to confine a dog to a crate. It would be cruel to throw a puppy in a crate and leave for eight hours. But if you take the time to properly introduce him to his den, you’ll find that he’ll come to prefer to be in it for sleeping and having a quiet place to call his own and be alone.

When you chose a crate, be sure that it is the right size. The crate must be large enough for the adult dog to stand up straight, turn around and lie down in a stretched position. Introducing your dog to the crate should be positive and fun. Never place your dog in his crate after disciplining him. Your dog needs to feel that his crate is a happy, secure place.

Select a command such as “in your house” and encourage him to enter by tossing a treat/toy into the crate. Leave the door open at first, and keep it positive by doing things such as meal times in his crate. Once your dog enters readily, close the door for a few minutes and praise him with a cheerful, positive voice.

Scheduling and creating a consistent routine for your dog is very important. Small puppies should not be left in their crates for more than a couple of hours at a time. They cannot be expected to hold their small bowels and bladders for more than a short period of time. Letting them out of their crates very frequently at first to go outside and learn appropriate elimination behaviours is important to help them learn how to “hold it”, and use the washroom in the appropriate place and time. The older the puppy gets, the longer he can “hold it”, and therefore the longer he is able to stay in the crate.

Remember that a crate is not intended as a place to leave your dog and ignore him, but rather as a tool to help the dog develop structure and learn the routine in a home. No dog should be left crated for long periods of time on a routine basis as this can create both mental and physical damage. Keeping your dog well exercised and mentally stimulated is important for the dog’s mental and physical health. If you must leave your dog for long periods of time on a regular basis, there are many options for you to keep your dog happy and healthy; keeping the dog confined to a small room with his crate’s door opened enables him to go in and out of the crate allowing the dog to stretch his legs and move around while keeping him safe and secure at the same time; calling a dog walker, or contacting a doggy daycare facility to take your dog for a walk and allow him/her to relieve themselves during the day.

Your dog’s crate is a tool which should allow you to have a smoother, happier relationship with your dog. Although crate training is a very effective method of training your dog, it may not be the answer to every behaviour problem your dog might exhibit.

For this reason it is a good idea to contact your veterinarian for advice. You may also contact one of our Animal Behaviour Counsellors at 613-725-3166 ext. 245.

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Harmful Breeding Practices

The OHS supports animal breeders who place a priority on the following aspects of  a responsible breeding program:

  • The health and well being of the breeding pair.
  • The short and long term health and well being of the offspring.
  • The overall species population.

The OHS supports breeding practices that select for good temperament, sound structure, and no known health or inherited disorders. The OHS encourages the sterilization of animals which do not meet these requirements.

The OHS supports breeders who educate themselves in order to recognize inherited disorders and to discontinue breeding and/or sterilize animals who could pass on these disorders.

The OHS opposes the selective breeding of animals that produces changes in bodily form and/or function that are detrimental to the health and/or quality of life of the animal.

The OHS supports the updating of breed standards which may prove detrimental to an animal’s health and which contribute to ongoing inherited disorders.

The OHS strongly encourages people to research breed types, breeding facilities, breeding parents, and offspring prior to adopting a dog or cat. Understanding specific breed traits and possible inherited disorders can minimize the chance of long term problems with an adopted pet.

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Wild or Exotic Animals as Companion Animals

Wild animals are native species that are not domesticated.

Exotic animals (also known as naturalized or introduced species) are animals that are not indigenous to this area and instead have been accidentally or deliberately transported by human activity.

The OHS believes that the best place for wild or exotic animals is in their natural environment because it is virtually impossible to meet the needs of a wild or exotic animal outside of its natural setting.

The OHS opposes the taming, ownership, breeding, selling or trafficking of any wild or wild exotic animal as a companion animal.

The OHS supports the humane relocation of any wild or exotic animal kept as a companion animal to an appropriate environment.

The OHS supports the City of Ottawa Animal Care and Control BY-LAW NO. 2003 – 77
which prohibits most exotic and wild animals.

The OHS supports the OSPCA and the CFHS in urging the provincial and federal governments to bring in legislation banning the keeping of wildlife or exotic animals and to ban their importation and sale.

Approved by the OHS board of Directors March 2007.

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Palliative Care

The Ottawa Humane Society believes that owners whose companion animals suffer from incurable illness are responsible either for providing suitable palliative care (that is, comfort measures, including medication, to manage pain) for that animal or, should that not be an option, for providing for the humane euthanasia of their companion animal if the animal’s suffering cannot otherwise be alleviated.

Willfully neglecting or failing to provide suitable care for an animal, regardless of the animal’s life stage or prognosis, constitutes an offence under the Criminal Code of Canadaand may result in charges.

The Ottawa Humane Society believes that, because many animals do not exhibit pain in an apparent manner, the owner cannot alone make a determination of their animal’s level of suffering. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the pet owner to consult with a veterinarian regarding any decisions around palliation and/or euthanasia.

Should an owner opt for palliative care for their companion animal, they are responsible for consulting with a veterinarian to establish a care plan for that animal and for regularly following up with a veterinarian to assess the animal’s condition, including providing for any veterinary treatment required to meet the animal’s needs. For example, dentistry may be required to alleviate suffering caused by dental problems in an older animal.

During the time that palliative care is administered, the owner is responsible for ensuring that all of the animal’s usual and developing care needs are met to keep the animal clean and comfortable. Owners should be aware that, as an animal’s health declines, these needs may become time-consuming and onerous. The animal may require toileting on a frequent basis, including throughout the night, may require additional grooming (including more frequent bathing, clipping of hair and nails) and hand feeding.

Palliative care remains a viable option only as long as an animal’s pain can be managed as determined by a veterinarian and only as long as an owner remains able to meet the usual and developing care needs of the animal; thereafter, the only humane option is euthanasia.

The Ottawa Humane Society recognizes the pain and heartache involved with the loss of a beloved companion animal but cautions that owners must always place their animal’s welfare above their feelings for that animal.

Approved by the OHS board of Directors May 2005

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Euthanasia of Companion Animals at the OHS

An important part of the OHS Mission is to provide a safe haven for all companion animals in need.

The OHS keeps every adoptable animal until the right home is found, regardless of length of stay.

The OHS accepts that euthanasia is considered necessary when an animal is:

  • suffering severely or incurably;
  • professionally assessed as not suitable for adoption, either medically and/or behaviourally, using a best practices protocol.

The OHS supports the use of only the most humane methods of euthanasia available, and that those methods are performed only by trained veterinary personnel, assuring minimal discomfort, fear, or anxiety.

The OHS believes that responsible ownership of companion animals, especially through training, spaying/neutering and proper identification reduces the necessity of euthanasia.

Approved by the OHS board of Directors November 2008

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Cosmetic and Elective Surgeries

The OHS opposes elective surgical procedures performed on animals wherein the procedure is strictly for cosmetic purposes. These procedures include, but are not limited to, tail docking of dogs and horses, debarking of dogs, ear cropping of dogs, and dewclaw removal in dogs.

The OHS believes that many breed standards established by the Canadian Kennel Club are antiquated and that meeting such standards does not justify performing these cosmetic surgical procedures.

The OHS believes that declawing cats should only be performed when medically necessary or as a last resort when all alternatives have been exhausted. The OHS supports alternatives to declawing of cats and provides information on these alternatives. Our informative pamphlet is available in PDF format. Declawing of cats, when deemed absolutely necessary, is best done at time of spay or neuter, and should only be performed by a licensed veterinarian using the highest standard of pain management.

The OHS recognizes that identification and processing of farm animals often involves castration, dehorning, branding, tail docking, ear tagging, nose rings, and tooth pulling, among other invasive procedures. The OHS encourages the selection of less invasive forms of identification, and performing surgical procedures under the guidance of a veterinarian using anesthetics where appropriate which can minimize pain and suffering to animals and can lead to greater production gains.

The OHS supports efforts to abolish cosmetic surgical practices and improve elective surgical practices for domestic animals in order to maintain the highest level of welfare and to minimize any unnecessary pain or distress.

Approved by the OHS board of Directors February 2007

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Puppy and Kitten Mills

Puppy and kitten mills are usually homes or farms where people collect and breed dogs and cats with the single goal of producing as many animals as possible in order to maximize profit. Overcrowding, poor sanitation, and lack of proper nutrition, ventilation, and veterinary care are common conditions in many breeding mills. These conditions often lead to poor animal socialization and poor animal health.

The OHS opposes such breeding mills.

The OHS supports dog and cat breeders who place a priority on the following aspects of a responsible breeding program:

  • The health and well being of the breeding pair.
  • The short- and long-term well being of the offspring.
  • The overall dog or cat population to which they will be adding.

The OHS strongly encourages people to research breed types, breeding parents, and previous offspring, and to visit breeding facilities prior to adopting a cat or dog from a breeder.

The OHS actively supports the rehoming of abandoned pets by retail pet stores.

The OHS is opposed to retail establishments that sell pets which have been acquired from breeding mills. Purchasing these animals creates the demand for these mills to continue their irresponsible practices.

For information go to:

Approved by the OHS board of Directors April 2008.

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Companion Animal Suppliers

The OHS opposes the for profit sale of companion animals in retail pet stores and through the Internet. These sources may not provide sufficient information about species-specific requirements and often promote impulse buying. They also may provide unhealthy living conditions for the animals and contribute to the overpopulation of pets.

The OHS supports the adoption of companion animals from humane societies, pet adoption locations, animal welfare organizations, animal shelters, and pounds.

The OHS recommends that prospective adopters research the history of the animal to determine whether there will be a good fit between the animal’s needs and the adopter’s lifestyle.

The OHS believes that, at a minimum, companion animal suppliers must be responsive to the five freedoms of animal welfare:  https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/farm-animal-welfare-committee-fawc#assessment-of-farm-animal-welfare—five-freedoms-and-a-life-worth-living

  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – by providing ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  2. Freedom from Discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  5. Freedom from Fear and Distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

The OHS recommends the licensing of companion animal suppliers and supports the licensing of breeders including the establishment of codes and standards for the care, housing and treatment of animals in such establishments. A good model for such codes is the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Kennel Code of Practice. (Canadian Veterinarians’ website)

Approved by the OHS board of Directors January 2009.

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Animals as Prizes or Gifts

The OHS opposes the giving of animals as prizes.

Owning an animal requires planning and preparation prior to acquisition as well as long-term responsibility and commitment. Acquiring an animal as a prize does not allow for such preparation.

The OHS believes that gifting of an animal must involve the informed consent and preparedness of the recipient.

Approved by the OHS board of Directors June 2008.

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Aggressive or Dangerous Animals

The OHS strongly believes that it is the responsibility of the owner to ensure their animal does not harm people or other animals. Animal owners are also responsible for knowing the content and requirements of the municipal bylaws to which they are subject.

The OHS recommends the enforcement of municipal licensing and animal control laws; non-compliance by animal owners or handlers should result in heavy fines.

The OHS encourages responsible spaying/neutering of pets as well as socializing and training of all pets to prevent and/or control aggressive behaviour.

The OHS recommends the use of basket muzzles to prevent aggressive dogs from biting. Properly fitting basket muzzles safeguard the health of dogs by allowing them to pant and drink while muzzled (i.e. like those worn by racing greyhounds).

The OHS believes breed-specific bans are not a very effective way to protect the public from aggressive or dangerous animals.

The OHS strongly encourages prospective owners to research breed types, prior to obtaining a dog or cat. Understanding specific breed traits can minimize the chance of long-term problems with an adopted pet.

New Position Statement- Replaces and expands on Aggressive and Dangerous Animals related to Breed Specific Legislation and Municipal Bylaws and Wolf-Dog Hybrids

Approved by the OHS board of Directors January 2008.

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Feral Cats

A feral cat is an unowned, free-roaming cat that has never lived with humans. Feral cats are a domesticated species that now live as wild animals.

The OHS believes that feral cat colonies are a result of human neglect and therefore the care of the feral cat population should be managed in a humane way.

The OHS believes that the goal of feral cat management programs should be to gradually eliminate feral cat colonies by maintaining them in a healthy state and preventing them from reproducing, leading to the eventual attrition of members.

The OHS supports feral cat management programs that adopt a “stabilize and maintain” approach. This approach provides a multi-faceted way of dealing with the issue, including:

  • The removal of suitable cats and kittens for rehabilitation and adoption.
  • The maintenance of healthy cats deemed unsuitable for adoption using the TTVNR approach (trap, test for infectious diseases, vaccinate, neuter and return).
  • The monitoring and care of feral cat colonies by community caretakers.
  • The euthanasia of diseased cats whose health is deemed unrecoverable or illness poses a risk to other cats.

The OHS believes that feral cat colonies can be prevented through responsible cat ownership, including:

  • Proper licensing and identification.
  • Neutering to prevent roaming and unwanted kittens.
  • Vaccinating to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Only allowing cats outside on a harness and under owner supervision.
  • Not feeding stray cats.

The OHS believes that the management of feral cat colonies should be a responsibility shared by the community. It is imperative that key stakeholders work together to manage the feral cat situation effectively in both the short and long-term.

Approved by OHS board of Directors January 2008

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Animals in the Entertainment Industry

The Ottawa Humane Society is opposed to the use of any animal in entertainment acts and displays that cause physical or psychological harm or where the animal lacks appropriate socialization.  These acts include but are not limited to, circuses, rodeos, racing, and fighting.

The OHS considers the following to be inhumane in any circumstance:

  • the use of abusive, cruel or stressful training techniques, devices or agents to cause animals to perform
  • the administration of any drug for non-therapeutic purposes in order to alter the performance or behaviour of animals
  • roping other than for purposes of husbandry care and veterinary treatment
  • forcing any animal to pull weights for competition
  • games involving chasing and/or catching an animal
  • events where betting or prize money is tied to an animal’s performance

The OHS supports activities that fulfill animals’ physical, psychological and social needs.

The OHS recognizes that the use of animals in entertainment is a legal activity and believes that at a minimum, only domestic animals must be used for such activities and, when not performing, must be provided with an environment that fulfills physical, psychological and social needs.

The OHS supports the humane relocation to an appropriate environment unwanted animals used in entertainment.

In 2002, the Ottawa Humane Society and others lobbied Ottawa City Councillors to include the banning of exotic animal entertainment in its new Animal Care and Control Bylaw, citing both human health and safety and animal welfare concerns. The OHS argued that using wild animals in this manner was dangerous and highlighted incidents across North America.  It also argued that the training methods and means and frequency of travel is inherently cruel. It pointed to the myths around the educational value of these shows and the link between the illegal trade in wildlife and this industry.

What it achieved was a licensing system, whereby animal circuses and the like would have submit a variety of documents to obtain a licence to bring elephants, tigers, and other wild animals to the City. The City agreed to license cruelty. While this has virtually eliminated one-off events in bars and clubs that were among the worst “hosts” it has little effect on the larger circuses and other animal shows.

The OHS believes that the time for this kind of entertainment has passed. This has been recognized by jurisdictions in Canada and around the world.

Approved by the OHS Board of Directors March 2007

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Zoos and Aquaria

The OHS believes that the best place for wild animals is their natural environment.

The OHS strongly opposes the capture or confinement of any wild animal solely for display, entertainment and/or education purposes in zoos and aquaria.

The OHS believes that where confinement is necessary, animals must be provided with an environment that fulfills physical, psychological and social needs.

The OHS opposes the selling by zoos or aquaria of their surplus animals for any reason including hunting or research and recommends population control through sterilization and natural attrition.

The OHS supports the humane relocation of unwanted zoo or aquaria animals to an appropriate environment.

The OHS acknowledges the existence of captive breeding programs, however believes that natural breeding programs involving habitat rehabilitation and wildlife protection are a more sustainable alternative.

The OHS supports and encourages public education about wild animals. Viable alternatives to zoos and aquaria exist through television, internet, museums and other educational tools; and therefore the OHS supports the humane phasing out of zoos and aquaria through sterilization programs and natural attrition.

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Hunting

Hunting inflicts pain and suffering on animals, and is inconsistent with the mission of the OHS (1).

The OHS opposes:

  • the hunting of animals for solely recreational purposes;
  • the hunting of endangered or threatened species (2);
  • the hunting of animals for harvesting specific body parts;
  • the use of lead shot (3), which is likely to poison waterfowl and raptors;
  • the hunting of animals with the use of dogs;
  • the baiting or luring of animals with lights, food or sound;
  • canned or compound hunts, where the target animal is confined or tame; and hunts where the animal is fired on with a remotely-controlled device.

The OHS acknowledges that some forms of hunting are legal activities and recommends that every effort is made by the hunter to inflict minimal suffering.

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(1) The mission of the OHS is: To work in and with our community to provide leadership in the humane treatment of all animals, to address the causes of animal suffering, to encourage people to take responsibility for their animal companions and to provide care for animals who are neglected, abused, exploited, stray or homeless.

(2) As defined in the Canadian Species at Risk Act.

(3) Regulations under the Canada Wildlife Act require non-toxic shot (containing less than 1% by weight of lead) for hunting most migratory game birds.

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Trapping and Poisoning

Trapping and poisoning inflicts pain and suffering on animals, and is inconsistent with the mission of the OHS (1).

The OHS opposes trapping and poisoning of animals for fur or recreation.

The OHS acknowledges that some forms of trapping are legal activities and recommends that at a minimum it should be carried out in a manner that causes minimal suffering.   For more information on Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Trapping regulations, see http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_97f41_e.htm

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(1) The mission of the OHS is: To work in and with our community to provide leadership in the humane treatment of all animals, to address the causes of animal suffering, to encourage people to take responsibility for their animal companions and to provide care for animals who are neglected, abused, exploited, stray or homeless.

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Fur Farming

Fur farming inflicts pain and suffering on animals solely for fashion, and is inconsistent with the mission of the OHS (1) .

The OHS opposes:

  • the farming of animals for fur; and
  • the sale of articles containing animal fur.

The OHS acknowledges that fur farming is a legal activity and recommends that at a minimum, it is done in a manner consistent with voluntary industry codes of practice on the care, handling and slaughter of animals. For more information on these codes, see http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/heasan/transport/infrastructuree.shtml

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(1) The mission of the OHS is: To work in and with our community to provide leadership in the humane treatment of all animals, to address the causes of animal suffering, to encourage people to take responsibility for their animal companions and to provide care for animals who are neglected, abused, exploited, stray or homeless.

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Food Animals

The OHS accepts the husbandry of animals for human consumption provided that the production methods are in compliance with best practices for humane and ethical food production.

The OHS believes that ethical and humane husbandry practices are those that are responsive to the five freedoms of animal welfare:

  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst — by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  2. Freedom from Discomfort — by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease — by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour — by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  5. Freedom from Fear and Distress — by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

Reference: Farm Animal Welfare Council

The OHS recognizes that identification and processing of farm animals often involves castration, dehorning, de-beaking, branding, tail docking, ear tagging, nose rings, and tooth pulling, among other invasive procedures.

The OHS encourages the selection of less invasive forms of identification as well as performing surgical procedures under the guidance of a veterinarian using anaesthetics where appropriate. This can minimize pain and suffering to animals and can lead to greater production gains.

The OHS believes pharmaceuticals should be used only for the treatment of illness, disease or injury and opposes:

  • antibiotics in feed in sub-therapeutic amounts;
  • growth enhancing hormones; and,
  • any inappropriate use of pharmaceuticals for food animals.

The OHS is opposed to any method of slaughter which does not quickly render the animal totally unconscious prior to being killed.

The OHS believes that transportation of food animals can be the source of unnecessary pain and stress due to duration of travel and over-crowding in trucks and pens.  Animals, including those which are not accepted for human consumption, must be processed quickly and humanely.

The OHS supports the work of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) to:

  • establish humane slaughter procedures;
  • review and update standards for humane transportation; and,
  • review and update, to international standards, the current Codes of Practice for food animals.

The OHS supports the accurate informational labeling of food animal products that allows consumers to make informed and educated choices on ethical food consumption.

For further information on the CFHS and its work on the following food animal issues is available on the CFHS website:

Approved by the OHS board of Directors May 2007.

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Urban Wildlife

In an urban environment, humans and many species of wildlife live in close proximity to each other, which may result in human-wildlife conflicts.

The OHS is committed to promoting an understanding and appreciation of urban wildlife, and to promoting humane and effective means for resolving conflicts between wildlife and humans in an urban setting.

In particular:

  1. The OHS recommends a preventive humane approach to human-wildlife conflict, including wildlife-proofing of property.
  2. The OHS recommends that where possible, animals and birds be left in place for the short-term during the birthing and rearing season.
  3. The OHS accepts live trapping and humane removal as a last resort solution for human-wildlife conflicts.

The OHS acknowledges that trapping and relocation of urban wildlife does occur and must be done in conformity with Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources laws and regulations. For more information governing wildlife in Ontario see:

Information on how to resolve conflicts between wildlife and humans in an urban setting can be found on the OHS website: more > (Wildlife problems)

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Research on Companion Animals at the OHS

As a safe haven for stray or homeless companion animals, the OHS is committed to treating animals in its care with dignity and respect.

The OHS believes that the majority of these animals have the potential to become loving companions and makes every effort to ensure they find appropriate homes.

The OHS does not sell or transfer companion animals in its care, whether alive or dead, for research purposes, practicing medical procedures or harvesting organs or tissues.

The OHS believes that experimental treatment, such as drug trials, involving companion animals in its care presents a potential conflict of interest with its Mission, unless it is deemed medically necessary by trained veterinary professionals and in the best interests of the animals that would be subjected to the treatment.

The OHS does not support or permit unnecessary procedures on companion animals in its care, even those which do not inflict harm, including the procurement of blood for transfusions.

Approved by the OHS board of Directors May 2006

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Animals in Research, Testing and Teaching

Adopted by the Board of Directors October 1993

The OHS knows that physical and psychological suffering by animals is incurred in experiments in the fields of psychology, toxicity testing, biomedical and drug development, wildlife research and teaching.

The goal of the OHS is to restrict the use of animals to those areas of research, testing and teaching which do not jeopardize their physical or psychological well-being. The need to use animals in research can, at the present time, only be tolerated if there is absolutely no alternative and the animals used are afforded complete protection from pain and stress.

The Humane Society recognizes that the use of some animals for research, testing and teaching in ways that jeopardize their physical or psychological well-being may not end in the immediate future.; It is the policy of the OHS to use every means in its power to reduce and end the suffering of animals for research, testing and teaching by:

  • Promoting replacement of animal used in research, testing and teaching with alternative methods, refinement of techniques, and reduction in numbers. Greater efforts should be made by government, university, industrial and other research institutions to develop and use humane alternative techniques.
  • Ensuring that animal housing facilities are designed to ensure physical, social and psychological well-being.
  • Ensuring that appropriate exercise is provided.
  • Appointing animal welfare representatives on all animal care and grant review committees. These committees must be accountable to the public.
  • Opposing the importation of primates from the wild for research purposes.
  • Opposing the use of restraining devices for any prolonged period.
  • Opposing mandatory surrender of animals from pounds for research, testing or teaching purposes. The OHS will not release companion animals for research.
  • Requiring education for all those involved with research animals to include courses in ethology, ethics, manipulative procedures and current laws, regulations, guidelines and codes of practice regarding laboratory animal care.
  • Supporting legislation to prohibit elementary and secondary school students from performing experiments on animals which cause or could cause pain, suffering or death. Students at all levels who object to experimenting on animals or dissecting animals should be provided an opportunity to choose alternate projects, approved by their teaches, without a grade reduction.
  • Requiring enforcement and improvement of pertinent laws relating to the use of animals in research, testing and teaching.
  • Opposing the use of muscle relaxants or paralytics alone, without anesthetics. Anesthesia, tranquilization, analgesia and euthanasia must only be administered by trained researchers and technicians.
  • Urging the ongoing review of the Canadian Council on Animal Care Guidelines for the “Care and Treatment of Animals in Research”. It is recognized that these Guidelines represent the absolute minimal level of care available.
  • Opposing procedures, experiments or animal use which involve needless repetition, or are from scientifically trivial ends, or which involve techniques for which satisfactory and humane alternatives have already been developed. The OHS is especially opposed to the use of animals for testing such items as cosmetic products, household cleaning goods, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. The OHS believes that all experimental and testing protocols utilizing animals should be subject to extensive ethical reviews.

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Animal Care Training at the OHS

As a safe haven for stray or homeless companion animals, the OHS is committed to treating animals in its care with dignity and respect.

The OHS acknowledges that training using live animals is necessary to assist in educating the next generation of personnel who will care for animal companions.

At the OHS, training in medical interventions is limited to those procedures deemed necessary in the treatment or rehabilitation of animals in its care, including routine testing and diagnostics.  Such procedures may be carried out by students provided that they have been assessed as having attained the required stage in their education and that they are working under the supervision of a qualified veterinary professional.

The OHS permits training in non-medical procedures, such as grooming, provided that the animals are not harmed and may benefit from such procedures, that the procedure will not negatively impact on or unduly delay its adoption into an appropriate home, and, finally, that the procedure is carried out within a formal OHS program structure.

Approved by the OHS board of Directors May 2006

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Working Animals

The OHS recognizes that many species of animals are used by humans to assist them in a range of work activities.

The OHS believes that working animals should have the same level of care and commitment to their individual welfare as is expected for companion animals.

The OHS believes that humane and ethical husbandry practices for working animals must ensure that the animal’s welfare takes precedence over any other objective.

The OHS supports the humane relocation of unwanted or retired working animals to an appropriate environment.

Because no legislation exists that is specific to the care and treatment of working animals, the OHS believes that, at a minimum working animal practices must be responsive to the five freedoms of animal welfare:  https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/farm-animal-welfare-committee-fawc#assessment-of-farm-animal-welfare—five-freedoms-and-a-life-worth-living

  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst: by providing ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  2. Freedom from Discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease: by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  5. Freedom from Fear and Distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

The OHS encourages the establishment of a national Code of Practice for work animals.  Such a code would provide guidance on issues specific to work animals such as training methods, hours of work, rest breaks, appropriate equipment, transportation and retirement at the completion of the animal’s working career.

Approved by OHS board of Directors January 2008

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(1) A working animal is an animal that is used by a human to enable the human to accomplish a task related to earning a living, to enhancing the human’s capacity to live independently or to support public safety.  Examples include carriage horses, service and guide dogs, police, bomb-sniffing and drug detection dogs, among others.

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Pesticides

Pesticides are poisons. They are not without risk and should always be used and stored with care.  Ingested pesticides can cause severe pain, uncontrollable seizures, and death by asphyxiation or internal bleeding. They can also damage vision, balance and other faculties.  Pesticides include herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and rodenticides.

Pets are exposed to a higher concentration of pesticides because of their direct contact to the ground and the fact that they use their noses and mouths to explore and lick themselves clean.  As well, their size lowers their toxic threshold.

The OHS recommends that anyone using pesticides should take a precautionary approach to the handling, storage and disposal of pesticides as improper storage or usage is responsible for the majority of acute animal poisonings.

The OHS recommends that caution always be used when choosing and applying insecticides (such as flea and tick products) on animals, or in their environment, as misuse of these products can be harmful.  For example, some products that are safely used on dogs can be deadly to cats, even in small amounts.  It is important to consult with a veterinarian before using any insecticide product.

The OHS supports safe alternative approaches such as Integrated Pest Management (animal proofing) to the use of rodenticides since the intended purpose of these products is to kill rodents through internal bleeding.  These products put all other animals at risk as well.

The OHS recommends the use of pesticide-free products and methods as a safe alternative.

Approved by the OHS board of Directors May 2008.

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