Staying Connected. June 19

Friday June 19, 2020

Dear Friend of the Animals

It’s the eve of the Summer Solstice and summer has indeed arrived following a most eventful Spring in the Times of COVID.  At the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA, we are carefully assessing when it will be possible to have some public on site, and how that will happen safely.

We continue to do “no contact” adoptions; all adoptable pets’ pictures, histories to the extent known, health status, and characters and behaviours are shared virtually and in phone discussions. Finding the best match remains the priority, and since the onset of the COVID, adoption outcomes continue to be successful.

And still the times are changing

Among the benefits of this time of self isolation, are the health and well-being of dogs. Our canine friends – newly adopted or long standing family members – have been enjoying the constant company of their favourite people and the extra attention that comes with being home altogether, a lot.  One of the shelter dogs in care at the shelter lay down when his walker arrived; he had had enough exercise!

As restrictions begin to loosen, some dogs may struggle to adjust to life after quarantine. If you or someone you know is facing a return to work, here are some ways to make the transition easier for you and our 4 legged best friends.

The following tips are from the fine folks at The Animal Medical Centre in New York

  1. Encourage Independence. Set up a comfortable space where your dog can go for some quiet and relaxing time alone.
  2. Practice Separation.  Leave your dog home alone for short periods at first and gradually increase the time that you are away.
  3. Rethink Your Exit Strategy. Give your dog a treat or favourite toy when you leave. This helps create  a positive association with your departure.
  4. Mask Outside Noise.  If your dog is easily startled by outside sounds, soothing music or a white noise machine might help.
  5. Change of Scenery. Hire a trusted dog walker to come for a midday visit to break up the day or look into sending your pup to day care.
  6. Reward Calm Behavior. Don’t make a fuss over your pet when you return home.  You want to convey that it is “no big deal” that you are away.  Give your dog attention when he is calm.

Change is hard for all of us. And it is no different for our pet companions. A little advance planning, a lot of patience and ever present love and respect will be rewarded with a near seamless transition among best friends.

When things don’t go as planned, reach out to your veterinarian, your experienced friends, or give us a call. We can help.

On the eve of summer, and on behalf of the animals and their families you support, I wish you continued health and safety.


Marion Emo
President and CEO
Keeping Distance Staying Connected.


Staying Connected. June 5

Friday June 5, 2020

Dear Friend of the animals

Yesterday, Thursday June 4, was Hug Your Cat day.  I do not hug my pet companion Currie; he decides when and how he wants to show and receive affection. Currie lays near feet, alongside the laptop, and at the end of the bed. Ear tickles and belly rubs are his hugs of choice to my great delight.

I looked up “hug”. The Merriam Webster dictionary definitions include “to stay close” and “to hold fast” as in “cherish”.  Staying close and holding fast means a lot of caring. At the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA, we hold fast our commitment to keeping cats healthy, safe and wanted. Every day our staff and volunteers, supported by donors, are working with pet families to do just that. And here are some of the ways.

Supporting Pet Families

The three best things we can do for cats are spay/neuter, get a vet, and microchip our cats.

Spay/neuter reduces the number of unplanned kitten births resulting in overwhelmed pet families, and high numbers of stray, abandoned and neglected cats. PetSmart Charities® of Canada grants over 5 years have subsidized 5,100 spay neuters for cats belonging to families with least access to services. This means that more than 55,000 unplanned kitten births have been prevented. Overall, spay neuter surgeries provided by our Companion Animal Hospital have helped pet families be the pet parents they want to be.

Not forgotten are street cats who live in alleyways, parks and fields. While not owned, they are community cats for whom we collectively take responsibility to reduce their populations, promote health, and provide minimal shelter. The Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return program provides donor subsidized spay/neuter, rabies vaccinations and support for cat colony caregivers.


Our adopting families learn “Got a pet? Get a vet!” A newly adopted cat of any age is in good if not great health.  As is the case for us human folk, health promotion and disease prevention are key for a healthy life. The HBSPCA sets the stage for a positive health journey with a record of the newly adopted cat’s health status, vaccination record and follow up requirements – to be shared with the pet family’s veterinarian of choice.

A microchip helps cats find their way home if lost. A simple scan of a microchip shows your cat’s unique microchip number and reuniting cat and family is just a phone call away. Microchips are included with all spay/neuter surgeries. And, the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA regularly holds clinics for microchips and rabies vaccinations.

Sometimes the best of intentions do not work out for every pet family. When a cat arrives at the shelter for surrender, the first question is “What would it take to keep your cat?” We have learned that sometimes timely and affordable same day care is all that is required. When a cat is already in a safe and loving home, the best place for the cat is at home. A little care goes a long way and prevents an unnecessary admission to shelter.

Hug your cat

I invite you to hug your cat, if they like hugs, and hold fast the tenets of keeping cats healthy, safe and wanted.  Our service to community is made possible by people who care and advance the cause. You can make a difference by supporting spay/neuter for owned cats and community cats.



To learn more about spay/neuter programs at the HBSPCA please visit /services/spayneuter/

To help keep these programs accessible and available please consider a donation.  For the entire month of June, every $1 you donate to the HBSPCA through qualifies us to win $20,000! The more you give, the more chances for the animals.

Donate here

On behalf of the animals and their families you support, I wish you health and safety.


Marion Emo
President and CEO
Keeping Distance Staying Connected.


Staying Connected. May 29

May 29, 2020

Dear Friend of the Animals

It is Week 11 in the times of COVID-19. Since early April, we have stayed connected with you, our supporters, on the ways service is adapting to protect animals from risk, rehome pet companions, and support families keeping their pets healthy and safe. Your generous support reminds us that the collective gifts of individuals make a difference for the animals who enrich our lives every day.

When I speak with donors inevitably their fondest memories of their pets past and present find their way into the conversation. And the stories are not only about the distance they go to care for their animals, they are also about how their best friends nurture them and their families. Pets and people do thrive together.

In these times we have been asked regularly about how to include the HBSPCA in people’s Wills. It’s an intimate subject, an important subject, and one that makes an impact on animals when our supporters pass on. We are forever grateful to our supporters who think of the animals in their estate planning.

By remembering the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA in your Will, you can:

  • Provide funding for animal care while pets wait for their forever families
  • Spay/neuter animals to prevent pet overpopulation
  • Fund the medical and enrichment needs of the animals while in our care, keeping them as comfortable as possible
  • Assist caretakers in managing feral cat colonies
  • Support pet families to be the pet parents they want to be
  • Ensure that our programs support learners – coop students, veterinarians in training – teaching compassion and empathy
  • Grow educational programs for children and youth, our future stewards of humane communities.

Your charitable bequest can go directly to the programs you may have supported already in your lifetime. You can also choose to dedicate your gift to a particular area of the work you care so much about

Those of us who have pets can’t imagine what life would be like without them. Their love and dedication bring us joy unlike anything else.  I invite you to celebrate the human animal bond and consider leaving a gift in your Will to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA. May is Leave a Legacy Month, and as it draws to a close, consider how your contribution can make a lasting contribution, all for the animals. Please reach out. We can help.

Be safe. Be healthy.


Marion Emo
President and CEO
Keeping Distance Staying Connected.


Staying Connected. May 22

May 22, 2020

Dear Friend of the Animals

In the times of COVID-19, your shelter continues to support pet companions at risk and help pet families make decisions about their pets in these times of stress and change. At the heart of these discussions are solutions that give “voice” to pets’ well being.

Finding another way

It’s not uncommon for pet families to arrive at the shelter, overwhelmed with care. Thor’s family arrived with a request for humane euthanasia. Thor had previously been treated for urinary issues yet there was no improvement. The family thought he was blocked; they had exhausted their funds in the times of COVID; and, they felt there were no options given treatment had made no difference.  On examination, the Companion Animal Hospital team discovered that Thor was not blocked and that he would require some minor medical intervention, and that he would require a prescription diet for the remainder of his life. Thor’s family was thrilled to have him treated, and Thor was signed over to care.

There is help for pet families like Thor’s family. The conversation starts with – “What would help you keep your pet? Let’s look at what’s needed and what can be done”, and then, “what’s the right solution for you?” No one option is right for every pet and their family.  At the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA, all treatable conditions are treated. There is a place for end-of-life support, only at the end of life.

Today, Thor  – the orange tabby – is lounging at home with his new found friends. Lucky Thor.

Yes, there are homes for aging felines

Last week, Lori’s sister in law contacted the shelter.  Her husband was recently hospitalized and Lori (not her real name) would be going to reside in a long-term care home. Would the shelter help rehome 7  cats, all about 8 years, social and well cared for? Yes, very much so. This is our promise – all will be rehomed. The cats are arriving in stages at the shelter; the first three all require dental work to alleviate pain and suffering prior to rehoming.

A change in living arrangement is very hard, especially when one is aging. Missing one’s pets is hard. Lori hopes to keep one with her.  The HBSPCA covenant is – no pet life behind. We’re here to help.

Donors make possible health checks, medical interventions, and medical surgeries every day in the Companion Animal Hospital. In addition to sustaining ready and robust instruments, medicines, and more, personal protective equipment (PPE) is a priority and will continue to be the “new normal”. Masks, gloves, gowns and face shields are everyday practice in the Companion Animal Hospital. And donors help sustain these supplies.

Get your Spring Lottery Tickets before May 28th at 5pm to be included in the GRAND PRIZE draw of $5,000 /donate/lottery-tickets/

On behalf of the animals you support, I wish you health and safety.


Marion Emo
President and CEO
Keeping Distance Staying Connected.


Staying Connected. May 15

May 15, 2020

Hello Friend of the Animals

Yesterday, Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford announced Phase 1 of the opening of Ontario’s services and businesses. The times of COVID-19 are changing and the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA is getting ready. I want to let you know what this means for your local animal welfare charity and the service to community you support.

Taking care of our people and the public we serve

We are mindful that the state of emergency in Ontario remains in place until June 2nd. And we are mindful too that the Premier stated that businesses  – including veterinary services – should open only when they are ready. The health and safety of our Staff are the priority, as is the safety of the public we serve. We are confident too that our donors who have supported the animals generously these past two months expect no less of us.

The HBSPCA has already started working on a post COVID-19 Emergency State recovery plan. We are guided by distancing, local and Provincial public health directives and the evidence based practices evolving among our colleagues across Ontario and Canada.  Our focus on safety for all compels us to ensure a robust supply of personal protective equipment, re-assess patient flow in our Companion Animal Hospital, and modify staff and public pathways in the building.

Protective barriers are being installed in the hospital and adoption center. Web cams will enable meaningful staff meetings without face-to-face gatherings.  Classes, clinics and fundraisers will resume only when it is safe for the public to gather in numbers greater than 5 persons.

Service to community – still active, every day

For the next while, the HBSPCA will remain closed to the public. Service to community continues as it has for several weeks. These services include

  • Receiving animals at risk identified by Provincial Inspectors and as asked.
  • Receiving animals requiring emergency care.
  • Receiving surrenders of animals otherwise at risk for neglect and abandonment.
  • Supporting pets and their families with end of life support to alleviate pain, distress, and discomfort at the end of life.
  • Offering compassionate boarding for pets belonging to persons who might be hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment and for whom there are no pet care alternatives.
  • Providing no contact adoptions for pet companions ready for their forever home.
  • Supporting our customers with telemedicine and pet behavioural advice to keep people and pets together.
  • And
    As reported last week, safe spay/neuter for street cats in our City, already over populated with cats on the street.

It takes a village to make a difference 

As you may be finding in these times of COVID, we are distant yet not alone. We are grateful for the support community members show every day. This week, community members provided hand made washable masks for our Staff. What a fabulous support, helping to fill a safety need that will go on for some time yet.



Holy Cannoli!  Yesterday, a donation of cannoli was received from Katie’s Cannoli as a way to say thanks.  Yummy!




And our colony caregivers continue to be supported with cat food. Thank you.

I am reminded everyday of what I have come to think of as the Canadian way. Among our animal welfare colleagues across Ontario and Canada, we are connected and collaborative. We share our insights and plans to sustain a humane future. Learning together, no one is left behind, and this can only serve the animals, pet families and our communities well.

Looking Ahead

We are exceptionally grateful for your support, especially since the advent of COVID-19. As donors and supporters, you are helping build innovative service, new service, and the requisites for safe service and keep people and pets together. And for this we sincerely thank you.

I invite you to share some of the ways people you know can help support innovation, all for the animals.

Help the HBSPCA win $5000.  Vote Daily here

Be a local hero and become a monthly donor /donate/monthly-gift/

Purchase Spring Lottery tickets at /donate/lottery-tickets/

OR, if you and others are able, please support the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA with a donation of any size.

As our “bubbles” expand and our communities open up, I wish you, your families and your friends health and safety.


Marion Emo
President and CEO
Keeping Distance Staying Connected.