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.

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