Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ORA's Top 10 Tips to Cope With Pet Allergies

Allergy to pets is one of the main excuses we hear from people surrendering their pets.

Apart from the fact that allergies are so often used as an excuse for the abandonment of companion animals to shelters, pounds and worse - allergies to pets do exist and can be a serious health concern. Like all allergic reactions, pet allergies are the result of an immune system reaction to a harmless substance; in this case, the reaction is to the proteins in pets’ dander (dead skin flakes). Often we find that those who complain of allergies the most are the ones seeking sympathy for “getting rid of the cat (or dog). On the other hand, many committed animal caregivers who would never consider separating from their companion animals, simply suffer in silence from pet allergies.

For the benefit of the latter category, here are some of our proven, and hopefully useful, suggestions:
1. Remove any carpeting in your home if possible since pet dander accumulates in broadloom and cannot always be properly removed simply by vacuuming. Dander can be removed from hardwood floors with just a wet rag and from ceramic or vinyl floors by washing them.
2. Use cheesecloth as a filter to cover air vents. This helps to keep pet dander and other allergens from circulating throughout the house. Clean air vents as needed throughout the year.
3. Sad as this can be, keep your sleeping area off limits to pets and do not allow your animals into the bedroom.
4. Use HEPA filter vacuum cleaners, and vacuum regularly. HEPA filters provide filtration of smaller particles than traditional vacuum filters, catching allergenic particles invisible to the naked eye such as dander, dust mites, and pollen.
5. Do your research and purchase a good air cleaner with a HEPA filter for the pet room(s) you frequent most often.
6. Have the pets groomed once a week outside of your home, and Furminate or brush them daily in a well-ventilated area such as the porch or on a balcony, and as far away as possible from your bedroom. Use a permanent lint brush to remove extra hair from pets, clothing or visible furniture surfaces in a pinch.
7. Invest in durable slipcovers or protective casings on your seating or sleeping furniture that you can easily change or put into the washing machine whenever you need to.
8. Wash your hands after interacting with your pets.
9. Take preventative steps to help manage your allergies. Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to keep your immune systems strong. In addition to the many allopathic remedies available to reduce allergy symptoms, it might also be a good idea for you to consider consulting an homeopathic practitioner who may be able to cure your allergies altogether by strengthening your immune systems.
10. Healthy and happy pets create far less dander. Keep pet areas clean and stress free as possible, and make sure your pets eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to help keep their immune systems strong.

Management tips that may be suitable for some pet allergy sufferers may not necessarily work as well for others, but be sure to give ORA's Top 10 a try! Sometimes just living with a dog or cat, especially from an early age, is said to be helpful in managing other allergies over time.

ORA Animal Rescue

Pictured above: Claireby

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Boys of Summer

Big hugs to all of you from everyone here at ORA as "Hug Month" speeds by and comes to a close! August's Feature Cats are a decidedly bonded pair of almost identical DSH black cats named Billy and Simon. Lap cats they may never be, but with these musical feline children around, your home will definitely be filled with all kinds of inventive sounds! ORA has taken great care of Billy and Simon, and these handsome boys are now ready for adoption. Fill out an application form at when you're ready, and let us help to introduce Billy and Simon into your loving household today. ORA -

‎"I've witnessed all your suffering As the battle raged higher And though they did hurt me so bad In the fear and alarm You did not desert me My brothers in arms." -Dire Straits

Credit: CHS

ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals

Friday, August 26, 2011

No More Homeless Pets and Calgary is Leading the Way, Part 2 of 4

Bill Bruce, Director of Calgary Animal and Bylaw Services: having at heart the well being of animals.

Key to the Calgary model is the partnerships. It took Bill a number of years to get everyone on board, but he was consistent in inviting all stakeholders to provide input on the ideas he wanted to incorporate into his shelter. Open, transparent communication with all partners remains the foundation for the decisions made in the best interest of the animals who spend time at the shelter and live in the community.

This model, with no tax dollars spent to pay for it, has resulted in an exceptionally high ratio of pets being returned to their owners, many without ever arriving at the shelter. Success rates are high for finding new homes for those that either have no owner or need to be re-homed. Public accountability for the care of the animals while at the shelter is expected, and is available on the web site. Transparency and accountability are of utmost importance to Calgarians; Bill not only recognizes this but makes sure these are clear and direct for everyone who wants this information.

Calgary’s model begins with the concept that “virtually every animal who winds up in a shelter or on the street is there because a human relationship failed them.” Determined not to punish the animals because of the mistakes of people, Bill’s philosophy is to “encourage responsible pet ownership through licensing, public education, and limited enforcement.” The goal of Bill’s Animal Control is to shift from traditional animal control to responsible pet ownership, and this is reflected in the mission statement of Animal and Bylaw Services: “Encouraging a safe, healthy, vibrant community for people and pets through the development, education and compliance of bylaws that reflect community values.”

Mission Statements are great, but how does Calgary put the words into action? By identifying and stating clearly six primary goals:

1. Identify the issue
2. Engage the stakeholders
3. Build a process that works
4. Educate people to use it (92-95% voluntary compliance)
5. Back it up (5% enforcement)
6. Measure it (how do you know you are improving)

It has been demonstrated all over the world that traditional methods used by Animal Control agencies do not work in saving lives, are costly and ineffective in solving the perceived overpopulation, particularly of cats, and cause tremendous disagreements between residents. Bill introduced a system in Calgary to place the emphasis on responsible pet ownership and away from antiquated methods of animal control. Again, Bill states clearly that “in North America, we do not have a problem with pet overpopulation, stray animals, nuisance or vicious animals – we have a problem with responsible pet ownership!”

So, how would Bill Bruce define responsible pet ownership? He starts with what he calls the “Four Principles of Responsible Pet Ownership.”

1. License and provide permanent identification for pets
2. Spay/neuter pets
3. Provide training, physical care, socialization and medical attention for companion pets
4. Do not allow pets to become a threat or nuisance in the community

Many people view licensing pets as no more than a ‘money grab’ by municipalities. In some North American cities, this is exactly what licensing is. It is no wonder many are upset at the idea of putting more money into the pockets of the local Animal Control.

So why are folks lining up to pay their annual fees in Calgary? And why do some even go the extra mile and pay an additional license fee? It is not simply that Bill Bruce makes paying the annual fee as easy as possible, although that is certainly true: pet owners receive an automatic renewal notice; there is a 24-hour pet license hotline; owners can complete an online form; pay at the bank; make a night deposit; or pay an officer directly. In Calgary, officers are certified mediators whose driving force is to resolve conflicts and help the people who need it the most. Bill Bruce would not tolerate negative relationships between the people who work for and with him and the citizens of Calgary.

The license fee for an altered cat is $10.00 and a dog is $31.00, while an intact dog license is $52.00. Compliance for dog licensing is 92 %. There are hefty penalties for non-compliance – owners of unlicensed dogs can be charged $250.00. Having said this, Bill is more than fair to non-compliant owners. He has been known to waive the yearly fee completely when a person is experiencing difficult times. Cat licensing infractions are the same, but mandatory cat licensing only became law in January 2007, so there is more leniency for cat owners. Compliance for cats was 45% in 2008 but is steadily increasing. Cats with permanent identification by tattoo or microchip are not required to have a tag.

And if kitty does go missing and ends up at this shelter, the cat’s photgraph is put on a postcard which is then sent to all homeowners within a three to four block radius of where kitty was found. This greatly improves the chances for a happy ending. If the family does not want the cat back, then a new and permanent home is found by Animal Services.

To be continued in Part 3.


Calgary’s Bill Bruce brings his shelter expertise to
the Intercontinental Toronto-Yorkville Hotel at
220 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1T8 CANADA
on Friday, SEPTEMBER 30, 2011, at 7:00 PM.

Tickets are $11.30 (tax included)
Advance Ticket Sales Only—Call 416-726-5762
or visit for more information.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Bev Smith Memorial Fund at ORA

Beverley Smith. b. January 31, 1945 - d. June 23, 2011. Two months ago today, ORA lost a great friend and wonderful rescue ally. Bev was born in Toronto on January 31, 1945. This year when we took her out to dinner to celebrate her 66th birthday, it never crossed our minds that it could be her last birthday. Bev was very fond of animals, of all animals, cats, dogs, raccoons, skunks, you name it. Since an early age she took home any cat or dog in need. Six years ago, an ORA volunteer proposed to hold an eBay auction. Amongst the bidders we noticed a recurrent name, Bev Smith, outbidding everybody. As she explained to us later she was trying to get the most money possible for our organization by pushing the bids up although she did not even know us yet. We were an animal rescue and that was sufficient enough to get her attention and her sympathy. While playing that game, she ended up with a few items. Realizing that she lived close to us, we asked to meet her to deliver the goods and overwhelmed as always we are with cats, we asked Bev the usual question: "would you like to foster a cat?" To our amazement, she enthusiastically responded, "yes, anytime." Bev already had a large number of cats when we met her, but she really did wonders with the strays; she took good care of them and she socialized them so well that they usually got adopted very quickly. Bev fostered many of ORA's cats throughout the years, and although she has had some health issues, nobody thought that her end would be so close.

In honor of Bev, we will be setting up a special memory fund to help care for Bev's surviving and unadoptable feline family here at ORA.

Giving by Cheque:
Please make your cheques payable to "ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals", mark "Bev Smith Memorial Fund" in the cheque memo line, and mail them to us at:

ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals
P.O. Box 22608
300 Coxwell Ave
Toronto, ON M4L 3W7

Giving by Credit Card:
Please call Claudia at 416-726-5762 or Corinne at 416-726-8895 any time to make a donation to the "Bev Smith Memorial Fund" by credit card over the phone.

Giving by PayPal:
Please visit and click the "PayPal Donate" button to get started with your web donation.

Unfortunately, on June 23, 2011, Bev was found dead of a heart attack in her home. Animal Control was ready to remove her cats and bring them to the pound, but we could not let that happen. Although we had no idea where to house so many cats, we took over the responsibility of all of her 28 cats. This has been a large endeavour and some of these cats are still in very temporary accommodations. Some are adoptable, although not very young, but some are over 10 and need constant vet attention. All of Bev's cats were very well looked after. There is a lesson that we can get from Bev's passing: we never know when our end will come and we should never delay to make any necessary arrangement to provide for our animals should we predecease them.

Rest in peace, dear Bev! One day you will meet your kitties again, but until then, rest assured they will be cared for with great love and compassion, and to the best of our abilities.

Claudia Vecchio, Corinne Thaw and your many friends at
ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals

Friday, August 19, 2011

No More Homeless Pets and Calgary is Leading The Way, Part 1 of 4

In 2008, 27% of the dogs picked up by Calgary Animal Services were returned to their owners without even setting “paws” in the pound. Specially designed, climate controlled vans allow quick identification of the dogs’ owners.

By Mary Shepherd

Yes, we can! Three words, spoken repeatedly by Barack Obama during the race for the Whitehouse and after, echoed around the world. While they were meant for the human political venue, they can be aptly applied to the issues surrounding ‘all things animal.’ In fact, what could be more political in the world of animal welfare than debates about how Animal Control facilities should operate?

According to many people working for improved animal welfare, Calgary has the best animal control in North America. This praise speaks not only to how the facility operates on a daily basis, but also to the philosophy behind everything that is planned and put into practice. The welfare of the animals is uppermost in everyone’s minds, along with the welfare of the citizens of this progressive city.

When I was searching for a speaker to address the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (or AWAC) in London Ontario, my first call was to my good friend, Jill Dennis-Bishop, at Best Friend’s Animal Society in Utah. Without pausing for breath, she suggested Bill Bruce. Not only was he one of Best Friend’s keynote speakers for their annual ‘No More Homeless Pets’ Conference in Las Vegas in October 2009, he is Canadian. We have the best in our own country! As Director of Animal and Bylaw Services in Calgary, Bill is quickly becoming one of the most sought after speakers on this topic.

AWAC’s mandate is to advise the Environment and Transportation Committee and City Council on animal issues. So on November 27, 2009, we hosted Bill at a public meeting to talk about the background, philosophy, and operation of Animal Services in Calgary. He did not disappoint. From comments and questions, it was clear that everyone attending this dynamic presentation wanted to bring this model to our city. We do not stand alone. Everyone who listens to Bill can hear his level of commitment to the animals, and wishes to model their own Animal Control after the one he has developed in Calgary.

He has provided visionary leadership and developed collaborative and respectful relationships with community partners. These partnerships include the City of Calgary and the Province of Alberta, the Calgary Humane Society, rescue groups such as the MEOW Foundation, breeders, trainers, pet store owners, veterinarians, and the citizens of his city. Bill’s presentation on Calgary’s Animal Control Services is riveting. After his 90-minute presentation -- Success in Calgary – is complete and questions have been addressed, there is always one final inevitable query: “Would you please consider coming to our city to take over our facility?” Bill says he has received a number of these requests, but he has a job. And he has already set his goals for how he will help make a difference once he retires form his current position.

To be continued in Part 2.


Calgary’s Bill Bruce brings his shelter expertise to
the Intercontinental Toronto-Yorkville Hotel at
220 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1T8 CANADA
on Friday, SEPTEMBER 30, 2011, at 7:00 PM.

Tickets are $11.30 (tax included)
Advance Ticket Sales Only—Call 416-726-5762
or visit for more information.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ORA's "Sterilize, Don't Euthanize" Campaign Redux

Poster from ORA's 2004 campaign of the same name.
Animal News Magazine Art Director: Carmen Mok

ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

ORA's Founder Thoughts for Thursday

Some days, it really seems like sad news much outweighs the happy. Between wild animal species facing extinction and domesticated animals being mistreated, abandoned and killed, it can be really difficult to find a silver lining.

However, from time to time, some good news leaves us hopeful that things may be improving and that animals may be on their way to being regarded with the respect and consideration that any living creature deserves.

We would like to share one such uplifting story here today. This good news does not come this time from a dedicated rescue group or from some committed animal advocate, but from the “establishment,” from an Animal Control - from Calgary Animal Services.

Undoubtedly, Calgary Animal Services has taken over the “Leadership of Change” amongst all the established animal organizations in Canada, and its success as well as the means employed for its achievements deserve our consideration and close attention.

Almost unheard of before, Calgary Animal Services works together with the local Humane Society and with rescue groups, in the collective and harmonious goal to benefit the animals. Most of us active in animal welfare in other parts of Canada have only experienced rivalry and the deleterious effects of strong egos amongst animal organizations; and most grass-root rescue groups are just objects of contemptuous disregard from the “big ones.”

But if such beneficial cooperation has been attained in Calgary, why could we not do the same in Hamilton, in Toronto, in Montreal and everywhere else? All that is needed is for the “right people” to be in charge - people eager to really help the animals and willing to work seriously toward this objective.

In fact, what Bill Bruce, Director of Calgary Animal Services and Bylaws, and his team have achieved is not accidental: it is due to the desire, vision and commitment to do something positive for the animals. Bill notes that he wakes up every morning thinking, “what can we do better for the animals today?”. The desire to help the animals, the strong motivation and the strong sense of responsibility makes all the difference.

It is this work ethic, together with the refusal to follow the ways of the past, that makes great accomplishments possible.

That is true for any person who makes a difference in this world. Too often, when confronted with some bad news or with issues of animal cruelty, which are predominant in our world - such as factory farming, massive killing of animals in pounds or hunting - many people react with resignation. “That is the way it is,” “What can you do?,” all phrases that reveal disappointment, helplessness and acceptance of the status quo.

We certainly cannot do anything if we do not want to do anything. A lot can be accomplished if we replace the rhetorical question “what can you do?” with a serious investigation of “what are our options and what are we willing to do.” No matter what position we occupy in society, if we are motivated and sincere about taking action, we can make a difference and our deeds can entice others to follow suit.

What Calgary Animal Services is accomplishing is not only beneficial to the animals and to the community in Calgary, but it is also important because it creates a model for others to imitate and follow. Examples are infectious, and before you know it, an isolated case develops into a trend and into a movement bringing about radical change. And this is hopefully the next good story we hope to report and share with you soon: the success of other Animal Services across Canada, inspired by the Calgary example, to put an end to pet homelessness.

Claudia Vecchio
Volunteer Chairperson

ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals

Special Event Invitation:

Friday, August 5, 2011

ORA: Heartfelt thanks to Lorne Park Animal Hospital!

On behalf of all ORA’s volunteers, we wish to express our gratitude to Lorne Park Animal Hospital for performing, yesterday, August 4th, a very complex dental surgery on Jasper, entirely pro bono!

The surgery performed by Dr. Memon presented two challenges as Jasper has a heart murmur and a misaligned jaw that is easily fracturable.

Jasper came to ORA two years ago as a stray. He was so desperately hungry at this time he was seen trying to eat gravel. Immediately after his rescue he had three teeth removed. We were told that the unusual appearance of Jasper’s mouth was due to an untreated mandibular fracture, due to either accident or abuse, that had calcified causing an underbite and misalignment of the jaw.

Two years after the first dentistry, performed by another veterinarian, Jasper’s mouth had become badly infected and many teeth needed to be removed.

After extensive blood work, Jasper underwent a course of antibiotics prior to the dental surgery. Given Jasper’s heart murmur, Dr. Memon took precautions and administered a special anesthetics so as not to accelerate Jasper’s heart beats. He also asked his colleague, Dr. Batthi, to be present and to monitor Jasper in case a prompt intervention was needed.

Dr. Memon extracted all the infected teeth (Jasper is left with a molar and the canines) with extreme caution since the misaligned lower jaw presented a high risk of fractures. The surgery went superbly well and Jasper immediately went to his food dish as soon as he came home. He did not show any sign of discomfort. This morning he was running happily throughout the house and his jaw alignment has actually improved.

This surgery, requiring particular specialized skills, was performed free of charge in support of the rescue work by ORA, the Organization for the Rescue of Animals, and specifically to help our Jasper. This is an amazingly generous act considering that the regular price for a similar surgery is over $1,000. Dr. Memon and Dr. Batthi are very knowledgeable veterinarians with many years of experience and a compelling background of achievements, they are also very compassionate and they have done a large amount of volunteer work in their country of origin and in Canada. They practice very high ethical standards, and we are impressed by their kindness and professionalism.

Claudia Vecchio
Volunteer Chairperson
ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals

West Lorne Animal Hospital is a state of the art facility set up to respond to all kind of situations and emergencies.

Lorne Park Animal Hospital is located at
1107 Lorne Park Road, #16
Mississauga, ON L5H 3A1

Tel: 905-990-VETS (8387)

Happy "Work Like a Dog" Day, Rescuers and Volunteers!

August 5th is “Work Like a Dog” Day. Some people tend to get by doing as little as possible. That’s alright with us. Others do only what they have to. That’s okay, too. And then there are the people, who, as the day’s namesake goes, “Work Like a Dog” (no offence intended to the dogs we love and care for, of course!). You know who these people are. When a mountain of (usually undesirable!) work builds up and needs to get done, “Work Like a Dog”-gers are the efficient ones who rise to the challenge and push forward relentlessly until the job is thoroughly completed!

Work-A-Holic Day was celebrated exactly one month ago today, so some may question the necessity of even having a “Work Like a Dog” Day, but the notable difference between those who "Work Like a Dog" and those who are Work-A-Holics lies mainly in the distribution of energy and effort. Work-A-Holics can always be found working - after work, weekends, on holidays - even though they may not necessarily be working at peak energy levels every single minute. Those who “Work Like a Dog,” on the other hand, may not be working all of the time, but when they do take on a task, they give it their all.

“Work Like a Dog” Day is another one of those human calendar days with no known origins, but it is a welcome day in which we can show appreciation for the rescuers and volunteers who carry more than their load and fair share at times, and “Work Like a Dog.” We recognize and honor you for all that you do: thank you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Herbivores - Animal Frequency

We would like to thank Nadia Masoudi, Bob Timmons and Moe Masoudi for their great reception last evening at Herbivores - Animal Frequency. They made us feel right at home from the moment we walked in. We really enjoyed the time spent there with like minded animal advocates. I think that our interview will be very informative when aired. We also had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Liz Marshall, the producer of "The Ghosts in Our Machines," a film now under development with co-producer Nina Beveridge. Certainly Ghosts in Our Machines is a movie not to be missed by any animal caring person!

Photos taken this evening:

Claudia Vecchio
Volunteer Chairpersonjavascript:void(0)
ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals

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ORA on Twitter

ORA: Post-Rally 2 Thank You

Photographer Suzanne Kelly

Huge thanks to ORA volunteers and friends, HAC-STK administrators and members, and everyone who has pitched in and worked so hard to prepare for Saturday's Rally! Special thanks as well to those of you who came out to protest and support our second rally effort for the animals at the Hamilton Animal Control.

Here is how it all went down:

Jack Clark: "Fantastic 2nd Rally yesterday! More and more caring animal lovers of Hamilton are now joining us for reform of their animal control killing policies. Must've been over a hundred down at Jacksons Square later that afternoon! Many, many Hamiltonians signed our petition and helped distribute our flyers! Some even have occasional contact with the Mayor and plan on speaking to him about the HAC policies. :) We must keep spreading the word every chance we get, animal lovers are everywhere! Big thanks to those who are spreading the word daily, to all those who gladly signed the petition and to the tireless efforts of the relentless group of people who care enough to stand up and speak for EVERY animal inside this building! Looking forward to the next great Rally despite the negative narrow-minded views of some who refer to all these caring passionate people as 'over-the-top-jackasses.' ;) Come join us for this much needed exposure and greatly appreciated efforts to change policies! ALL animals deserve a 2nd chance at life! See ya there!"

Sandra Dobson Lovell: "I thought the rally was very successful. We were a small but enthusiastic group and a lot of people were educated about the HAC. I am looking forward to the next one and hope more people can make it."

Eva McDowell: "Thanks to all who made it to the Rally in spite of the QEW/403 being closed. Special thanks to the people of Hamilton who joined us this time. None of the people we spoke to knew about the situation at Hamilton Animal Control and all were very shocked that they don't allow public adoptions and kill 3000 animals every year. Many were eager to sign the petitions. Looking forward to the next one in about a month's time."

Claudia Vecchio: "Yesterday's rally was a great success! Hundreds of people stopped by, appalled to find out that so many animals are being killed, and that the HAC is not even open for adoptions. We heard a lot of complaints from the public about the HAC. Passers-by gave rally attendees as much information in return as we gave them. Many signatures have been added to our petition. One thing is very clear: Hamilton residents demand low cost spay and neuter, and they do NOT want to see their tax dollars being spent on killing animals."


Coming up next:
Rally 3 - August 27
Hamilton Council Meeting - September 20
Bill Bruce Lecture - September 30
Nathan Winograd Presentation - April 14