Staying Connected. December 10

Dear Friends of the Animals,

I would like to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Melanie Barlow and I am the recently appointed President and CEO of the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA.  I am thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful, community-based organizations with such dedicated staff and volunteers and supporters who share a love for animals, in particular companion pets.  In the past two weeks I have witnessed first-hand the incredible impact that the HBSPCA has in the lives of people and pets. I would like to share one of those stories with you.

Our close friends at Zachary PAWS for Healing (ZPFH) and the HBSPCA are committed to keeping pets and people together. And this week our partnership reminded us that collaboration makes a difference for pet parents and their companions alike.

Charlie is an 8-year old St. Bernard currently being cared for by a ZPFH foster family while his parent is in care.  This is what Donna Jenkins from ZPFH and her volunteers do – care for pets whose parents might not get the medical care they need because there is no care alternative for their pet.

The foster family was concerned that Charlie was experiencing dental pain. An examination of his teeth and gums at our Companion Animal Hospital revealed Charlie would need dental surgery. A blood sample for pre-anesthetic screening confirmed Charlie was otherwise in good overall health and a dental procedure was scheduled.

On Monday December 7th, Charlie was admitted for dental surgery. He was set up on intravenous fluids to support him throughout the lengthy procedure. Ten extractions were performed over 2.5 hours.

Charlie’s nails were overgrown.  Trimming such a large boy’s nails awake would be quite the task so our team took advantage of his sedation. In addition, a small skin tag was removed from his chin and his ears were cleaned.

Later that afternoon, Charlie returned home to recover for the next several days with a pain management plan to help him heal comfortably.

When Charlie reunites with his pet parent, both will be healthy, safe, and together. It doesn’t get better than that! Our donors make it all possible.  Zachary’s PAWS foster program is supported by Royal Canin Canada, Ren’s Pets and PetSmart Charities just to name a few. Restoring health and well-being to these pets at the Companion Animal Hospital is made possible by donors who know how strong the human animal bond is. Thank you.

Pets are people’s best friends. Sometimes their only friend. Thank you for caring and keeping people and their furry friends together.

Be safe. Be kind.

Melanie Barlow


Staying Connected. December 3

Dear Friends of the Animals

It’s cold and in the Times of COVID we are spending more time indoors and thinking about the impact of safety measures on holiday traditions. We are finding alternative ways of giving among our families, friends and colleagues, and showing we care.

This past Giving Tuesday on December 1st, people showed they care. Street cats asked for help and donors doubled down. In this most extraordinary year, donations of all sizes combined to raise $42,400.  Volunteers, cat colony caregivers, street cat ambassadors in neighbourhoods, and the HBSPCA are humbled by the tremendous support, all for the health and safety of street cats.

There are solutions to reducing the number of cats on the streets. Spay and neuter surgeries for pet cats keep numbers down and ensure pet parents do not get overwhelmed with all those kitties. Microchips helps lost cats get home. Otherwise, abandoned and lost cats become long time strays and make more cats. Kittens grow up feral with little or no people contact. Cats find themselves in colonies, seeking food and scant shelter. Numbers grow quickly.

The solution for street cats? Get them fixed rabies vaccinated. And tip the ear – an ear tip signals that someone cared enough to change the life of that cat.

Hats off to those who generously stepped up with their treasure and offered to match up to $1,000, $2,000, and $5,000 on Giving Tuesday. You created momentum for a humane cause dear to people’s hearts. The HBSPCA and its partners including the Hamilton Community Cat Network for street cat health and reduced populations, are deeply touched and energized.

This has been a special week too at the HBSPCA. We welcomed Melanie Barlow, CEO, on Monday November 30th.  Melanie most recently was the Executive Director at Ancaster Community Services and is taking the helm at the HBSPCA and its service to community. I and the Team are working together to support a transition for success.

Be safe. Be Kind


Supporting transition. Keeping Distance. Staying Connected.


Staying Connected. November 26

Thursday November 26, 2020

Dear Friends of the Animals

This extraordinary year in these extraordinary times has not derailed a focus on the future. Sustaining shelter medicine practice for healthy animals is top of mind, always.

Future Ready

This year, our Companion Animal Hospital Team is again hosting two veterinarians in training for five days. The Ontario Veterinary College regularly seeks placements for vets in training, exposing them to practice in the trenches, and the range of presenting patients.  The five-day program experience at the HBSPCA includes pre-surgical checks, spay-neuter surgeries, patient recovery, and wellness checks for pets belonging to some of our communities’ most at risk pet parents.  In addition, the students learn the importance of scheduling to support efficient patient flow from intake to discharge, all the while supporting the confidence of pet parents for post-surgery care.

Surprisingly, taking on students is not always an easy decision for the Team. Patient flow slows down. Fewer patients are treated. However, our commitment as a learning organization to help prepare future practitioners is an important responsibility. It’s the right thing to do.

Taking Care of Pet Families, Always

Life continues to get better for cats and their families every day in Hamilton. PetSmart Charities of Canada® has granted $74,904 to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) to help chronically under-resourced pets and their people access basic veterinary care. Starting in June 2021, the grant will help fund access to affordable spay/neuter surgeries, and health and wellness clinics for vulnerable pets in partnership with social service agencies. Proactive and preventative care for pets prevents illness and disease, reduces costs, and keeps pets at home where they belong.

We are humbled by the trust PetSmart Charities of Canada has in the HBSPCA Team for 6 years
now to keep pets and their people together.

Giving Tuesday – Keeping Street Cats Healthy

The best thing we can all do for pet cats is spay/neuter, get a vet, and microchip. Alas, too many cats get lost, remain strays and reproduce on the streets. Many band together in colonies, seeking food and scant shelter.

There is a solution – TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate and return “home”). The HBSPCA supports colony caregivers with guidelines on how to care for street cats safely without attracting wildlife, subsidizing spay/neuter surgeries, providing rabies vaccinations and microchips for health and safety, and an ear tip – signaling “I’m fixed and someone cared enough to change my life”.

This Giving Tuesday, we are inviting you to donate to help get street cats fixed, and populations down, down, down. Find out how you can match donation, make a single donation, and change the life of a street cat in our community.


With your help, we can raise $15,000 in 24 hours for street cats.

What’s a street cat? Typically they’re lost or abandoned strays that find a colony of cats to live with. They can also be born on the streets, making them feral which means they have little to no experience interacting with people. Feral cats are hard to adopt and find forever homes for.

Why do cats group together? Cats will gather around a food source and sometimes a shelter forming a colony, complete with a hierarchy. Most times a colony consists of 3-6 cats, but can be as large as 20 or more! In 2020, the Hamilton Community Cat Network (HCCN), registered colony caregivers, volunteers, local vet clinics and the HBSPCA helped over 600 cats receive TNVR services. There are still hundreds more in need of care.

Who takes care of street cats? Sometimes nobody. However, there are over 100 registered Colony Caregivers that provide food and shelter to community cats. They get to know each cat’s behavior and mannerisms, sometimes making it easier to detect changes and possible illness. Although food is often donated to the HBSPCA for the caregivers, there’s a cost per cat for TNVR (Trap, Neuter Vaccinate, & Return) services.

What’s included in TNVR services?

  • Safe and humane trapping of a community cat
  • Food & shelter while in HBSPCA care
  • Spay/Neuter surgery by a registered Veterinarian
  • Microchip implantation
  • Rabies vaccination
  • Ear tip procedure
  • Safe and humane return of a community cat
  • Hours of attention, dedication and patience!

Our Giving Tuesday goal is to raise $15,000 in 24 hours.

A donation of $50 will fund the caregiver cost and provide a weeks’ worth of food for a small cat colony. Help contribute to TNVR services to reduce the amount of cats born to the streets, and bettering the lives of those that consider the outdoors their home.

We invite you to join us next Tuesday, December 1st for Giving Tuesday.

Together we can make a difference. All for the animals.


Staying Connected. November 13

Dear Friends of the Animals

The days are shorter. The weather is colder. The leaves for the most part are down. All too soon the onset of cold always surprises us.

The HBSPCA Team is delightfully surprised and humbled that for the 6th year in a row, PetSmart Charities of Canada® will be granting funds to support families and their pets in Hamilton. The grants increase health opportunities for chronically under-resourced pets and their people and facilitate the delivery of accessible basic veterinary care. In the past, the grant to the HBSPCA has subsidized spay/neuter surgeries keeping pets healthy, reducing unwanted litters and preventing unnecessary intake at the shelter.

While pets and people together are a wellness combination, PetSmart Charities of Canada has long recognized the variety of barriers to accessible veterinary care in Canadian communities including but not limited to language, culture, socioeconomic status, or access to transportation. All of these are true in Hamilton.

Food bank usage reflects poverty. The 2019 Hunger Report (Feed Ontario) showed Hamilton having the 2nd highest food bank usage per capita in all of Ontario in 2018 with 12,300 (12 in every 100) people making 111,828 food bank visits. That same report shows, for Hamilton, that ODSP income was $486 less than the monthly Market Basket Measure and that Ontario Works income was $922 less than the same measure.  Little has changed and the Times of COVID have exasperated families’ situations.

I have heard said – “If you can’t afford a pet, you shouldn’t have a pet”. This is short sighted. Animals make a difference in people’s health and well-being every day. In our community, there are people who get up each day because they have a pet companion who is their best friend. We know that isolated and under-resourced seniors agree to hospital care only when their pet companions are fostered and provided basic veterinary care. We know that the relationships between differently abled persons and horses are restorative. Pets and people are a healing combination.

The PetSmart Charities of Canada grant will continue to support spay/neuter surgeries for under-resourced pets and their people. In addition, the grant will support a pilot program in partnership with three social service agencies for pet health check clinics – keeping pets healthy and safe at home, where they belong.

Thank you!

And thank you, Friends of the Animals. Your gifts of time and treasure support a Foundation of service to community, every day.

Be Safe. Be kind.