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Staying Connected. June 26

Friday June 26, 2020

Dear Friend of the Animals

Last Friday the Hamilton community and beyond lost a champion of humane justice for all. Regan Russell died tragically in Burlington protesting the treatment and transport of pigs to a rendering plant.

I met Regan some years ago. She and her partner Mark renovated houses in the neighbourhood. Her tall, gracious and quiet comportment was familiar to many. I met her again more formally in my role as CEO at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA. I learned how she helped elementary students understand the importance of animals, the need for compassion for all animals and the need to stand up when they saw abuse.  We talked about the growing population of abandoned and homeless cats – street cats – and what can be done to ensure all cats are healthy, safe and wanted. Over time, we shared stories about elder support, and the importance of community to keep people safe and connected in their neighbourhoods. Her aunt Margaret lived down the street from me with her dog; I’m not sure who was looking out for whom.

Locally, Regan was a one woman rescue. Regan looked out for street cats and socialised, spayed and neutered and found homes for cats. She found second chance homes for dogs who lost their home. She helped transition her aunt’s dog to new pet parents when her aunt was dying, ensuring everyone was confident about his future. My corner convenience store called Regan one time when a bird was inside; Regan worked for an hour to safely “free” the bird. Regan and Mark were pillars of support when their friends of 40 years suffered a house fire recently.

Regan was committed, passionate and tireless in her aspiration for a humane world. She was intelligent and unshakeable. Yet Regan was approachable, non judgmental and open to a discussion with anyone any time. As a colleague recently said to me – “she was not in your face”. And this was her gift. One felt drawn to engage should the tough and sometimes polarizing conversations arise, and deliberate and reflect.

I heard someone recently make the distinction between being hopeful and being optimistic. He likened hope to a feeling, and optimism to a mindset. Regan Russell  was optimistic.

Keep safe. Remember the path Regan chose. Be kind.


Marion Emo
President and CEO
Keeping Distance Staying Connected.

The HBSPCA Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return (TNVR) program subsidizes spay/neuter for community cats, sometimes called street cats. The benefits of TNVR for community cats include

  • a gradual decrease in numbers
  • Improved health
  • Reduced nuisance behaviours
  • Reduced risk of rabies spread
  • Reduced risk for birds and small mammal lives

Learn more on our website /services/spayneuter/trap-neuter-return/


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 12

Friday June 12, 2020

Dear Friend of the Animals

I hope this note finds you, our donors and supporters, healthy, safe and optimistic in these ever- changing Times of COVID-19.  Communities across Ontario are slowly opening up. “Bubbles” will be expanded. Some people will return to work and volunteering as businesses and activities ramp up.

Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) service to community will continue much as it has been for the near future – closed to the visiting public and open for service, including adoptions, pet surrenders, spay/neuter, telehealth support, and emergency response for animals at risk. Curb side deliveries, conversations and pet carrier exchanges are complying with all physical distancing requirements.  Like you, we are learning that indeed we can be nimble.

It was a gold star day at the shelter yesterday. Our Companion Animal Hospital received a Hamilton Community News Readers’ Choice Award – Gold.   The recognition of service to community by our peers and clients is special. And we could not be more humbled and pleased to be in the good company of Dr. Liz O’Brien’s Cat Clinic, also a Gold Readers’ Choice Award recipient. Dr. Liz, as she is affectionately known, has been a partner with the HBSPCA in the development of innovative approaches to supporting cat health and their pet families, and a mentor to all Staff.

Our Companion Animal Hospital, Making a Difference

Every day, the Animal Hospital Team is improving the lives of pet companions. The range of veterinary intervention for animals in care at the shelter or in foster homes includes spay/neuter surgeries, and where required for alleviating pain, distress and disease – limb surgeries, dental surgeries, lump removals, eye enucleations, and, heartworm treatment. Owned pets too access affordable spay neuter services and vaccinations; last year our Animal Hospital helped keep more than 3,500 pets healthy and safe in loving homes.

Donors and supporters make the work of the Animal Hospital possible. The Hospital is equipped and guided by standard operating procedures much the same as any “people’s” hospital to support scheduling, intake, triage, surgery prep, surgery, recovery and discharge, and end of life support.  On a special note, the Team is very grateful for the donor supported purchase of a digital x-ray machine, so important for just in time assessment of “what’s’ wrong” for treatment planning. This week, the time and talent of the Team helped Blackberry.

Blackberry’s Story

Staff received a call regarding a young cat that had been injured and required care. Discussion with the caregiver uncovered disturbing details; Blackberry had been injured way back in February, her leg was badly broken, and the bone had come through the skin. As the caregiver was not in position to provide care for Blackberry, she was surrendered into our care.

Blackberry was assessed by our Veterinarian on intake.  X-rays taken in the Hospital revealed the leg was beyond repair. Blackberry was prescribed pain management, and scheduled for leg amputation.  Her heart arrested twice in the operating room and our incredible Team got her back. She’s recovering. On Monday, Blackberry will move to a foster home for recovery for one month; she is being treated as well for a blood parasite.

Blackberry’s “voice” was heard. Despite obvious pain and discomfort, all signs pointed to her resilience and chutzpah! The Team went to work, and Blackberry will have a quality life in a new home. Donors make this possible.



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.

Twitter friends we need some paper towels! Are you able to help? Any brand is great and donations can be left on the table just inside our front door. The door is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm :) Thank you!