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.


Staying Connected. May 7

May 7, 2020

Hello Friend of the Animals

Friends and supporters like yourself have asked how our staff and volunteers are doing, what life is like at the shelter in these times of COVID-19, and importantly, how are the animals.  Your support is keeping service to community active.

Pet companions going home

Last week, I shared the launch of “no contact” adoptions and the positive experience that adopters shared with us early in the new process. In just a week, 15 pet companions have been rehomed with their forever families. Pet families include singles, couples, and families with children of all ages. We are delighted that cats of all ages too are being adopted including those at 1, 2, 7 and 8 years of age.  An additional 24 adorables  – guinea pigs, kittens cats, puppy and dogs – are being readied for their forever families.

Safe surgeries

Health checks and surgeries have required the development of new ways of work or revised standard operating procedures. These are guided by health and safety practices – physical distancing among staff and animals, and effective personal protective equipment (PPE) worn at all times. Early in the pandemic, surgeries for animals in care and those living in the community were not possible. Then, we piloted neuters for street cats, without which cat overpopulation only increases. And now, with a final review underway of robust procedures allowing for drop off and pick up of owned animals requiring surgery, the Companion Animal Hospital will do about 9 surgeries a day. While hospital capacity is 15-20 surgeries a day, this is a good beginning.

Our People

Most importantly, our staff, whether on site or at home, are healthy.  The shelter itself is quiet.  A handful of volunteers are walking dogs and keeping the fundraising office active. The staff team on site is lean and safe in their zones. Some of us rotate working at home. And some have been on more ZOOM meetings in the past month than in the past 5 years! We are all missing the banter, the face to face collegiality, the corridor discussions, and the number of miracles every day. But “no contact” adoption, end of life care, street cat support, help on the phone, and emergency response continue to make a difference every day, all for the animals and their families.

Looking ahead

There is no time like the present for innovation. No contact adoptions are here to stay and will offer an alternative approach for adopters in the future. Physical distancing will shape our service to community for a long time, and still, leave no animal behind. Telemedicine and help on the phone and by video are amplifying our efforts to keep pets and their people together, prevent unnecessary admission to shelter, and shape curricula for coop students and veterinarians in training. It’s the right thing to do.

You can help

Innovation is shaping the critical ways your local shelter is serving community, and making safe the provision of compassionate support, emergency response, and the rehoming of animals at risk. Here are some of the ways you can help support innovation, all for the animals.

Sew some masks.  Find details and instructions here /donate/wishlist/

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

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

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

Like you, we are grateful in these uncertain times for our health, the gifts of family and friends, the advent of Spring, and the bonds we have with pets, ours and those in other families.

I wish you health and safety.


Marion Emo
President and CEO
Keeping Distance Staying Connected.



Staying Connected. April 30

April 30, 2020

Hello Friend of the Animals

It feels a long time ago since daily life changed dramatically the week of March 16th; it is just week 7. Like many of you, we too at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA are missing face to face banter with each other, with our volunteers and most importantly, the individuals and families we serve. And perhaps like you, our eyes are screen weary from meetings on ZOOM, Skype, and Google Meet.  The good news is these tools are in place to help us keep distance, and stay connected in the time of COVID-19.

These times compel us to adapt and serve the animals in new ways. I want to share with you one of the ways your shelter is adapting.

The No Contact Adoption

Last week I shared with you the number of animals in care both in the shelter and with foster families. And while abandoned and neglected animals are already in a better place when they find their way to the shelter, a forever home is the goal for every one of them.

Our adoption process has been modified to re-home pet companions ready to bond with their new family, and, keep adopter candidates and staff safe. In just a few easy steps, Bandit and Coco went home on Wednesday, April 29.

Adopter candidates are invited to view adoptable pets and their story on line at When their heart is touched by a look, a character trait, a story or a video of them in action, the candidate begins the process by emailing our adoption team. Then, the candidate and Staff indulge a conversation about care requirements, any special needs, and behaviours known to staff and volunteers, and how these are a fit with the candidate’s lifestyle, preferences, and means. The goal? A doggone purrfect match.

Both Bandit and Coco were picked up by their new pet parents just inside the shelter doors.

Bandit had been on the hunt for a forever home that would keep him busy.  This rambunctious boy loves a good play session.  Luckily, his new pet parent, Josh, was up for the task and had been following Bandit on our website and social media for a few weeks, waiting for the opportunity to provide him a forever home.

Our sweet, petite Coco could not wait to find a forever family that she could share her big personality with.  This mini panther had been with us since early March and we are thrilled that she has found her people.

Evaluation will be ever important over time.  Bandit’s new parent – Josh – shared his feedback

“This whole process was so quick and easy, and you’ve been so incredibly helpful! I really don’t see any negatives to this process to be quite honest, any risks of infection through contact have been mitigated while still being able to provide a loving home for Bandit and others during this time. I so appreciate this no contact option being available due to the fact I was considering adopting for awhile and was initially discouraged to discover all my local adoption services had been shut down due to the COVID outbreak.”

These times compel us to adapt, and our donors expect no less. Our Mission holds steady. The means to re-home and keep people and pets together is changing. This only makes sense.

Rehabilitating and re-homing surrendered and neglected animals is one of the critical ways your local shelter is serving community in the times of COVID-19 alongside compassionate boarding preventing pet emergencies, fixing pet emergencies and ensuring no animal leaves this world in pain and distress. You can help.

Here are some of the ways you can help

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

Follow us on Social Media – Keep tabs on all that we’re up to and share with your friends.  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Order your pet supplies and accessories online through our NEW online boutique.  Email Michelle at to get started

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

In these uncertain times, I thank you for sharing our stories and continuing to support pets and their families.

In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry in British Columbia – be kind, be calm and be safe.


Marion Emo
President and CEO
Keeping Distance. Staying Connected.