Being more humane with the HSKWSP

Image of cats feeding
Image of cats feeding
Contributed image

All across Kitchener-Waterloo (KW), there are cats and kittens without homes. Many go to local shelters when caught, waiting to be adopted by the perfect family.  

One of these organizations is the Humane Society of KW and Stratford Perth (HSKWSP), which operate two self-funded and governed Animal Centres.  

Speaking with a member of HSKWSP’s team provided an informative and intriguing look into the adoption process and how the KW community can come together to support cats in the region through emails with The Cord.  

First and foremost, HSKWSP is “always looking for volunteers and foster caregivers.” 

Alongside monetary contributions, members of the community can support the organization by contributing to the pet pantry program  via donations of “essential items, including dog, cat and small animal food, litter, bedding, etc.” 

Individuals can also become a “humane ambassador” in their community by helping to “share how the humane society supports people and pets, refer people to [the HSKWSP] website for support programs and services, encourage adopting not shopping and help pets where [they] can!” 

Part of being a humane ambassador involves knowing what to do if you suspect there is a stray or feral animal in your neighbourhood.  

First, you should identify if the animal is injured, sick or lost. In all three of these scenarios, it is important to call the HSKWSP at 519-745-5615.  

It can also be useful to post a picture or video online of the animal: 

“Social media is great!  There are lots of lost pets boards, as well as Ground Search and Rescue, that you can post on and try to spread the word.” 

Further, you can “create a poster or flyer to spread to neighbours and see if the animal is owned by a local resident.” 

If you find a lost dog, it can be useful to “take it for a walk around your neighbourhood and ask others if they recognize them.”  

If all of these methods fail, calling the HSKWSP is important to ensure the animal can be returned to their rightful owner (or have their well being assessed by the shelter). 

Relying on the continued contribution of the KW Region, the HSKWSP has faced many struggles due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a charitable organization, HSKWSP relies on the generosity of the community: 

“There are different types of animal shelters – some can be municipally operated and funded, and others are not for profits. Although we all have the same goal, we are not affiliated with one another and work separately to help those in our community,”  the HSKWSP representative said. “HSKWSP is a charitable organization and receives no funds from the government for our charitable programs and services. We rely on the generosity of donors to keep our doors open and services available to the public.” 

Out of all the struggles currently being faced  by the HSKWSP, one in particular was prominent: Many individuals are grappling with caring for their pets physically and financially, leading to  difficulties accessing affordable veterinary care. The result has been HSKWSP seeing an increase in “medical surrender calls over the last half of 2022”.  

However, the pandemic has led to some positives in the world of animal welfare. This “incredible shift” marks a change in the way the industry is supporting people and their pets. 

“Where the industry has always focused on animals, we are seeing a fantastic shift to supporting both people and pets’ ‘ .  

One of these beneficial support programs include the Spay Neuter Assistance Program, a low-cost spay neuter clinic in Stratford, and a Community Vet Outreach program to support those who are vulnerably housed or experiencing homelessness.  

“We continue to grow these programs with our Pet Pantry Program and our partnership with GoodPup to offer low cost training services, so those who may be experiencing difficulty feeding their pet or accessing lower cost training can avoid having to surrender a pet,” the HSKWSP representative said.  

Ultimately, “this shift is wanting to keep people and pets together – maintaining the incredibly important human-animal bond – versus separating them.” 

The important work done by the HSKWSP is critical to the lives of animals in the KW Region. In its mission statement, HSKWSP states that it is “committed to promoting the human-animal bond with a focus on the responsible treatment of animals through education, collaboration, compliance, advocacy and care.” 

This collaboration with the community can be seen in the shelter’s upcoming charity event, “Bake for the Animals”. To take part, interested parties can either host a bake sale fundraiser for the shelter, or “follow the pastry path” by collecting a stamp card and visiting “partnering bakeries, eateries & coffee shops for a chance to win a Cuisinart Stand Mixer valued at $400.” 

Taking place during February, the event directly supports HSKWSP.  

There are also ways for children to get involved.  

From March 13-17, the shelter’s march break camp “includes a week of fun with animal themed activities for children ages 6-12 years. Camp includes special guest presenters, animal visits, a tour of the centre, arts and crafts, and pizza day!” 

Running from 9 – 4 pm, the camp is sure to be a hit with young animal lovers.  

With multiple ways to get involved for all ages, contributing to HSKWSP’s animal welfare work should be a priority for each resident of the KW Region.  

For more information, individuals can reach HSKWSP at kwsphumane.ca, infosp@kwsphumane.ca or 519-745-5615

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