Online Classifieds vs. Shelters

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Do you ever wonder why people opt to try and find a new home for their pet online vs. surrendering their animal to a shelter?

I don’t. I understand why people don’t surrender to shelters. I understand why people prefer to find a home for their beloved pet themselves. In this local anyway.

The provocation for this post is this image from the Ottawa Humane Society’s Facebook page:

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This is what the headline of the image states:

Coming back from lunch today, OHS staff, including Executive Director Bruce Roney, were taken aback to see a sealed box at the front corner of the building. Fearing the worst and seeing a small nose peek out of a slit in the box, they brought it the 50 feet to the OHS admissions area. Staff gingerly opened the box to find three four month old kittens. The kittens appeared healthy but are just now being examined by OHS medical staff. Shaking his head, Bruce commented, “I know this happens a lot, but really. Walk 50 feet and make sure the animals you allowed to be brought into the world are going to be okay. It never ceases to shock me how irresponsible people can be.”

Now, some might be thinking ‘How dare they?’ or ‘It’s only 50ft!’ but if you go onto the Ottawa Humane Society’s website, you’ll see that there is a laundry list of things you must do before you can surrender an animal.

Here is the condensed version for you readers:

  • make an appointment for weekdays between 9am – 6pm by phone or e-mail. Appointments may have a waiting list of up 3 weeks.
  • pay an admission fee per animal.The fee varies depending on the age of your pet and whether or not they are spayed or neutered.
  • have all the animal’s vaccinations up to date. This could cost a few hundred dollars in the Ottawa area.
  • they must be restrained on leash or in a carrier. So no walking up with your pet in your arms.
  • have all medical records of your animal, or your vet clinics contact number.
  • a piece of photo ID
  • proof of ownership. (city license, photograph, bill of sale etc.)

Now, to me this seems quite unreasonable.

First of all, most people are ashamed of having to give up their animal(s). It’s never enjoyable having to tell someone that your cat had a litter of kittens, because you couldn’t afford to have her spayed. The judgmental looks alone from most shelter staff are enough to turn anyone off, never mind having to pay a fee.

Secondly, many people just can’t find the time to make an appointment just to give up their pet. Weekdays from 9-6 is a very short window if you consider most of the population works during those hours.

Addressing the fee; I completely understand why the shelter wants to charge per animal. The costs involved in taking care of the animals is astronomical. However, most people giving up their animals can’t afford to care for them. So how come you expect them to afford a fee to surrender their animal, when they can sell it online and possibly recoup some of their losses?

It’s ridiculous, you can’t compete with that.

The only way to actually have some hope of getting people to surrender animals to you is to let them do so for free, and ask that they make a donation, of any amount they can afford, to the shelter. If they can, most people will… especially since they could write it off on their taxes. No such luck with a set fee.

A lot of people are probably now shouting at their monitor at me. It’s okay, I understand your frustration at me criticizing the OHS. But the fact of the matter is, the OHS is making people jump through hoops when all these people are trying to do, is do right by the animal. Look at how the OHS publicly shamed those who dropped off the 3 kittens. Some of the comments that followed, were just as judgmental.

Laurie Pratt Thank heavens! is right! But awwwww so sad :( Some people. They should be treated the same way…. Grrrrr

Ashley A Shody Some people shouldn’t be allowed to have animals an some people are just plain stupid hope those baby’s are ok

Barbara Stoll People just suck!

Melissa Gingras-Lepage What’s wrong with people !!

The OHS should really consider revamping the animal surrender process; drop the I.D. and fee, have anonymous drop-off. They should also figure out ways of assisting the local public with education.

Currently the City of Ottawa itself offers low-cost spay and neuter, which the OHS acknowledges on their website. However there is quite a long waiting list.

I’m sure the OHS could employ the assistance of a few local veterinarians and have spay/neuter drives once or twice a year. They could collect donations during these drives, and I believe the local news coverage alone would garner more good attention towards the OHS. The most recent memorable occurrence of them in the news, was when they ‘accidentally’ euthanized a woman’s dog who was being boarded at the facility.

Essentially, posts such as the one the OHS made on their Facebook page do nothing to educate, aid or improve the situation. They only make certain that people may decide to find a home for their animal(s) on their own, rather than have to face the judgmental Ottawa Humane Society.


  1. Excellent post. You call attention to a big problem that I have with many shelters. Why not make it easy for people to do right by these animals whether it is surrendering an animal or adopting an animal.

    Actually this brings to mind a recent incident around here where a person found a mortally wounded animal and tried to get someone to euthanize it, but had a difficult time because shelters and vets wanted a lot of money to do it. It wasn’t the person’s animal, they were just trying to do the humane thing.

    I don’t know what to say about the dog that was euthanized. Even if the owner never came back, I guess the shelter made no effort to find a new home for it.

  2. Very good post. We’ve had this happen at our no-kill shelter and we charge or expect nothing like OHS. We ask for a donation or volunteer time but take the animals we can. Shelters must see the world from the perspective of their adopters and those who need to give up their animals. Only then, will we all serve both our animals and humans, making us truly humane.

  3. It’s because shelters know they really don’t have the room or resources for a free-for-all drop off of animals. So they either intimidate with rule and the animals are adopted off online, and the people ask for the same huge adoption “Fee” that the shelter asks for, even though shelters deal with thousnads of animals and the individual, just one or a few. Or worse, they don’t even get dumped at the shelter; more like the side of the highway, which is far more than 50 feet from the OHS door.

  4. This is a great post. I agree with you 100% when you say that the people don’t have the money to take care of them. It’s true, if they don’t have money, how are they going to pay a fee? Would the shelter have rather had them dump the cats on the side of the road?

    Also, in regards to 2browndawgs’ comment, I used to work for some veterinary hospitals as a technician and one thing that many people do is confuse vet hospitals for shelters. Vet hospitals do not euthanize animals as charity because then they would make no money. It is a business after all. There are several occasions though when people had no money and we would try to help them out. Many people think vet hospitals will keep found animals as well, which is not the case. They need room for their patients. Plus, the veterinarian doesn’t know any of the found animal’s background and history, which could pose a threat to other animal’s health in the hospital.

    It may sound wrong to most, but if someone knocked on your door several times a month wanting lots of money to give their pet the care it needed or wanted you to house a found cat or dog, most people would not be able to do it.

    On an unrelated note, I would like to invite you to come and check out my blog.

    1. Yes, it’s sad, really.

      The cycle of unwanted litters of kittens and puppies could easily be curbed as well if low cost spay and neuter was offered everywhere. Oh, I can dream…

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