Friday, September 9, 2011

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

From left to right: Animal Health Technicians, Wendy Weed and Arlene Johnson scanning for microchips in a “found” cat.

Animal Services employs four qualified teachers. The interactive presentations are all curriculum-based, geared to classrooms and not whole school assemblies, with grade-appropriate support materials. There is no cost to the school; the programs are funded by licensing. Topics include dog bite prevention, dogs in our society, urban coyotes, and a Junior Bylaw Student Project. Animal Services not only works in partnership with the Calgary Humane Society, but sees that the Humane Society receives a $244,000.00 grant each year. Bill also provides grants for the MEOW Foundation. As well, Animal Services provides support to partnering organizations in other ways, too. For example, they loaned Animal Control’s Virkon ‘fogger’ to the Humane Society when theirs broke down during a disease outbreak in their facility.

When the Humane Society is overflowing with cats and kittens, Bill takes some of their animals and sees that they are adopted into forever homes. According to the Humane Society’s Patricia Cameron, Animal Services and the Humane Society have the same future vision and goals - humane care for all animals and homes for all adoptable animals, including the belief that animals are important and the lives of animals must be valued and respected. The support of mutual agreement to vision and values is the foundation on which many other collaborative actions, large and small, can be based.

Three additional components of the work taking place in Calgary are: police officers working with Animal Control Officers in cases of abuse; firefighters trained in animal rescue (all trucks have animal oxygen masks on board); citizens finding injured animals knowing they can take them to an emergency clinic where the veterinarians will treat them at no cost to the citizen. In Bill’s words, “no animal should be left to suffer at all because of money.” What has been accomplished in Calgary is nothing short of amazing, although Bill says “it’s not rocket science.” He comments that he awakes every morning wondering “what can we do better for the animals today?” One very interesting part of this progressive and humane model of Animal Control is that it is not based on enforcement or creating more laws. There is no mandatory spay/neuter, no breed specific legislation, and no pet limits. They do have an anti-tethering requirement. “No animal shall be left tethered and unattended in a place that is accessible to the public and no animal shall be tethered on its owner’s property unless someone is home to care for it should it be in distress.”

What is provided through Animal Services and what gets these results are valued services. Great achievements for the animals and the citizens are attained not by forcing compliance, but through extensive education, a PR campaign that speaks to the importance of being responsible for pets and reasonable licence fees: all under the supervision of a leader who is a professional mediator.

A final note from Bill: “We have a number of exciting initiatives launching this year. Impound rates are dropping both here and at the Calgary Humane Society. Euthanasia is dropping at both facilities, adoptions are up as is return to owner. It just confirms what we all believe, the answer is promoting and enabling responsible pet ownership, not more control. Control is an endless chase with few rewards whereas promoting and enabling responsible pet ownership creates outcomes of no more homeless pets, reduces aggressive incidents and eliminates animal suffering. Might even help us become a kinder, gentler community.”

Calgary Animal Services provides the model for any Canadian center that wants to follow suit and implement a truly humane and compassionate society. Every village, town and city can choose to move in the direction of becoming a member of the “No More Homeless Pets” community. [FIN]

Parts 1-4 are available on the web on Facebook at and the Best Friends Network at


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.

NB: We have upgraded to a larger room for the
Bill Bruce event, so a new series of tickets is now
available for sale. Please call to reserve your space.

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

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