The Winnipeg Humane Society Wed, 24 Aug 2016 18:06:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 August 2016 MVP: Kathy Shurvell Wed, 17 Aug 2016 21:19:52 +0000 Continued]]> A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!

Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us ( and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!

MVP is a volunteer-driven project with articles by Brian Kozak and pictures by Jim Harvey.

Check out our previous MVP’s.

August 2016 MVP: Kathy Shurvell


If you’re at the Winnipeg Humane Society while Kathy Shurvell is volunteering as a cat cuddler, look for the cats most in need of affection or socialization. Chances are that’s where you’ll find Kathy.

“I tend to spend a lot of time in Room A because those cats seem to have been there a long time (but recently some of them have been adopted),” Kathy said. “I especially like to spend time with those cats.”

As of this month, Kathy has been a WHS volunteer, alongside her sister Karen Hill who started a few blog2months earlier.  “My sister and I have always loved cats,” she explained. “When Karen retired she said let’s do some volunteer work and for some reason we both thought of this place and we just absolutely love it.”

Before volunteering at the WHS Kathy ran a home day care for 20 years. She sees the similarities between caring for little ones and cats. “Like little kids, cats cannot communicate with words,” she said. “You have to read their body language, behavior and expressions and behave in reaction to that.

“They have human qualities,” she noted. “I see them by themselves looking up at you, saying ‘don’t leave me.’ You feel bad going home. You think about it all week and then you look forward to coming back and sometimes they are adopted and you’re so happy and excited for them.”

Volunteering at the WHS is another step in Kathy’s life-long love for cats. “Karen and I both have a passion for cats,” she pointed out. “We had cats while we were growing up and I’ve always had a cat while my children were growing up.

“They’re a bit less demanding than dogs. When you’re working, it’s difficult looking after a dog. Cats are more independent. If you leave for a while, they are perfectly fine. Some dogs are more active and need your attention more.”

Kathy is always eager to take up the challenge of socializing those cats that are shy or frightened. “There’s one cat now that just doesn’t want to come out of the back of her condo,” she said. “You just go very slow and you hope that next week they’re a little bit less shy and if not, you go in and try to gradually socialize them.”

Blog1Kathy remembers one cat, Mary, who “must have had a bad experience before she came here.” Mary would not leave the back of her cage but Kathy was persistent, coming back a few times a week. Other volunteers noticed Mary’s fright and also helped. Eventually Mary was coaxed out, learned to trust people and was adopted.

“Some of the cats allow you to bring them out of the shells and you feel so wonderful when you can do that,” she said.

Her determination and passion for cats has not gone unnoticed by staff and volunteers alike. “Kathy’s sensitivity, compassion, love and empathy for our cats is unsurpassed,” said fellow volunteer Janet Stanko. “She gives her time, energy and an almost magical creativity to the animals helping to transform them into an adoptable pet for some happy individual or family!”

Kathy recently adopted a new cat, Andy, after her previous one passed away in March after 17 years with Kathy and her husband. She showed the same determination in selecting a cat as she does in socializing the cats – she took her time until she found the one that was right for the family. “I didn’t want to rush into anything,” she explained. “I had to make sure I found one that doesn’t have bad habits. When I saw Andy and I took him out of his cage he fell asleep on my lap and I just thought ‘This is the one.’”

Besides Andy, what else does the future hold in store for Kathy? She does crafts and is now working on some mixed media pictures that she’d like to sell in order to make money for the Winnipeg Humane Society. It’s clearly a cause near and dear to her heart.

“Staff here is so wonderful. They give you so much support; they give the cats so much support. It’s a good place to be for the cats, the volunteers, everyone. It’s great to see people so passionate about what they do.”

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Winnipeg Humane Society joins pledge to save 1 million cats Tue, 02 Aug 2016 14:19:09 +0000 Continued]]> OnixThe Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) and shelters across North America aim to save the lives of one million cats by 2019 with the Million Cat Challenge. Reduced adoption fees, changes to intake procedures and adjustments to shelter operations will help the WHS increase cat adoptions and manage the number of incoming cats.

“Our animal welfare community wants to save more cats and as a grassroots organization it is our duty to meet those expectations,” says WHS CEO Javier Schwersensky. “We must work together and use proactive approaches in order to give every cat a fair chance.”

In July the WHS introduced a month-long cat adoption promotion that helped 287 felines (155 cats, 132 kittens) find homes from July 1-27. The WHS will continue offering cats and kittens for a reduced adoption fee until August 31.

August 2016 cat adoption fees:

  • Cats (six months and older) range from free to $20
  • Kittens are $100 or $179 for two

The WHS has introduced the Care to Adopt program in an effort to reduce the number of incoming cats. Individuals who find a cat now have the option to care for it over a two-week period. If no owner has been found after the timeframe, the finder has the option to adopt. Care to Adopt relieves the workload of the WHS, saves resources for cats that need them most and quickly finds the cat a home.

On Aug. 8 cats in the shelter will be provided double-cages. More space for the cats lead to healthier felines, reduced stress levels, and more adoptions.

The Million Cat Challenge is a shelter-based campaign with a focus on five key initiatives that will reduce euthanasia and increase live outcomes. The five initiatives are: Alternatives to intake, removing barriers to adoption, managed admission, return to field, and capacity for care.

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July 2016 MVP: Karen Vincett Tue, 19 Jul 2016 16:52:25 +0000 Continued]]> A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!

Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us ( and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!

MVP is a volunteer-driven project with articles by Brian Kozak and pictures by Jim Harvey.


July 2016 MVP: Karen Vincett


Karen Vincett never had a pet growing up in North Kildonan, so when she began volunteering with the Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) in July 2015 she had no pre-conceived ideas about what area would be best suited for her.

She chose rabbit wrangling and has never looked back.

“I have always wanted a pet and never had one as a kid,” she laughed. “My parents said ‘no’ because they felt that they would be the ones taking care of it instead of me or my brothers.

“My family suggested I try volunteering here to give me a chance to work with the animals, and it went from there.”

Describing herself as ‘not much of a cat person,’ Karen decided she would work with the rabbits and guinea pigs after hearing that dog walking positions fill up quickly during her orientation. It was a decision she has enjoyed.

“Rabbits are not necessarily affectionate like cats or dogs,” she said. ”So maybe they’re notKaren-Vincett-3 as popular for pets but the longer that they are here the more you do get to know their personalities. It’s kind of tough sometimes seeing ones who are here week after week but you develop a relationship with them.”

Karen’s volunteer work with the WHS was recently recognized by her employer, Great-West Life. The insurance company encourages employees to become involved in their community by offering grants to eligible charities. The WHS recently received a $1000 award from Great-West Life after reading Karen’s application.

Like most WHS volunteers, Karen enjoys interacting with the animals and with people visiting the area. “I like helping our visitors determine which rabbit would be the best pet for them,” she said.

Karen’s enthusiasm and caring is not lost on staff and her fellow volunteers.

“I would like to nominate the ‘Bunny Girl,’ Karen for MVP,” volunteer Liane Murphy’s said in her nomination of Karen. Liane, who normally spends time with the cats, started visiting with the bunnies and Karen in the critter area. “We talked about the rabbits and the people who come looking for pets.  She is always friendly and welcoming.”

Liane added that Karen has volunteered over 120 hours in her first year, mostly with the rabbits but also assisting with the WHS Bow Wow Ball.

The rabbits are usually pretty easy to take care of, but sometimes they can “get a bit jumpy,” Karen said. “Last year on the pictures with Santa day there were a lot of people walking around with their dogs that had been brought in with photos. The rabbits get used to a certain level of noise and with more dogs in that day the barking made them a bit nervous.”

Has Karen ever thought about taking her volunteer work home with her, i.e. adopting a rabbit?

“Yes I have thought about it but right now my place is not pet-friendly,” she noted. “I wouldn’t mind one in the future. They’re fairly independent compared to cats or dogs. They’re pretty quiet mostly. They just want to be fed and to get a bit of exercise.“

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Foster Today! Fri, 08 Jul 2016 21:09:28 +0000 Continued]]> URIFoster-page-001Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to have a cat in your life, but not sure if you’re ready to make the full commitment? Perhaps you don’t have a lifestyle that allows you to constantly care for a cat, but you still have times when you could support and love a cat. Or maybe you’re just the type of person who loves animals and wants to help in any way possible.

We’re seeking foster homes for cats and kittens that are recovering from URI (upper respiratory infection). URI is similar to a person having a cold, so rest and relaxation go a long way in helping with recovery! When you give a cat a temporary home, you are helping them find a forever home.

Fostering is generally a three-week commitment and we provide all of the supplies and vet care for you! All we ask is that you have your own transportation to pick-up and return your foster cat, give them a quiet space to unwind, and show them some love!

Does this sound like a good opportunity to you? E-mail us ( or give us a call at 204-982-2049.

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WHS Full: Homes needed for hundreds of pets Fri, 24 Jun 2016 18:01:23 +0000 Continued]]> CatPuppyPromoJuly2016

A spike in incoming cats to the Winnipeg Humane Society has put the organization at capacity. Homes must be found immediately. Effective immediately and throughout July cats can be adopted for free  to $20; $100 for kittens and $179 for two kittens.

“If you have ever considered adopting a cat, now is the time,” says WHS CEO Javier Schwersensky. “Our shelter is at capacity and we must find them homes as soon as possible, or else we face the sad reality of euthanizing them. We count on our community to help us save as many cats as possible.”

As well, due to an influx of puppies adoption fees have been lowered to $99 from June 24-30.

 WHS Adoption promotions include:
• Cats (six months and older) range from free to $20
• Kittens are $100 or $179 for two
• Puppies are $99 from June 24 – 30th (one week, only).

Fosters are urgently needed to help slow down the number of incoming cats to The WHS as housing is limited. Foster families will receive all supplies and medical expenses courtesy of The WHS.


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Vigilante justice hinders, not helps, animals left in hot vehicles Thu, 23 Jun 2016 16:36:34 +0000 Continued]]> Dog in carThe Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) is receiving an increase in the number of calls from concerned public about pets being left in vehicles. This is leading to people attempting to break into vehicles and remove them from the heat. The WHS reminds the public that in order for negligent pet owners to receive proper repercussions, the law must be followed.

Winnipeg’s spike in temperature led to an incident on the evening of June 21 where individuals attempted to get into a vehicle with a pet left inside. The WHS experienced a similar incident last week and is concerned more people will attempt taking matter into their own hands.

“Unless the animal is unresponsive breaking into a vehicle and releasing an animal might help short-term, but people who do this can set the animal up to be in the same situation again,” says WHS CEO Javier Schwersensky. “We want these animals removed from hot cars as quickly as possible, but it must be done legally. It’s the only way we can make sure negligent owners receive punishment.”

If the animal becomes unresponsive inside the vehicle, act as soon as possible to remove it. If you believe a dog is suffering from heat stroke, look for these warning signs.

In order to punish pet owners who leave animals in vehicles, The WHS must follow the Animal Care Act of Manitoba and it needs concrete evidence that an animal has been neglected inside a hot vehicle. If a vehicle is broken into and the pet is removed there is no proof to be used in court to fine the owner.

The WHS does not receive government funding for its emergency service, and only has one emergency vehicle and crew to service the city. Hot days lead to multiple calls that must be answered efficiently. Because of this, The WHS relies on the community, police, and fire departments to help pets left in vehicles.

If you find an animal inside a vehicle, call The WHS emergency line (204-982-2020), the non-emergency police line (204-986-6222) or CAA (204-262-6111). If possible, provide the animal with water and attempt to alert the owner in a nearby store while waiting for response.

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June 2016 MVP: Kim Popkes Tue, 07 Jun 2016 18:40:44 +0000 Continued]]> A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!

Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us ( and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!

MVP is a volunteer-driven project with articles by Brian Kozak and pictures by Jim Harvey.

June 2016 MVP: Kim Popkes

Kim Popkes-5Retired news anchorman Tom Brokaw once said: “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” Chances are Tom’s never met Winnipeg Humane Society volunteer Kim Popkes, but if he did, he would certainly find this quotation appropriate.

Kim is a familiar face to mostly anyone who’s come to The WHS looking for a cat. She just celebrated 20 years of volunteering and in that time has served over 4,300 hours (that works out to just under half a year of 24-hour days!).

“The cat condo assistant job, which has had many names over the years, has been my main job pretty well since I started,” Kim said. “I’ve done other things. I do cat assessing now. I work at lots of special events.”

Raised on a cattle farm in Arden, M.B., Kim said she’s liked both cats and dogs from a young age. “I like dogs but I have never had a pet dog of my own. We had farm dogs growing up,” she said. “So cats have always been my thing.”

Kim decided to start volunteering after adopting her first cat from The WHS.  “I started getting the newsletter and seeing all the different opportunities,” she said. “It made me think I’d like to try that.”

Initially Kim wanted to volunteer taking animals out to senior homes for visits, but there weren’t any openings for that position when she started, so she began working with the cats.

Both of her volunteer jobs bring their own rewards, Kim admitted. Assessing cats “is totally concentrating on the cat,” she explained. “I find it interesting because I like to see the cats when they get here and how they react to you.”


Kim Popkes-2


But as a condo assistant she gets to deal with people and cats, she pointed out. “I like trying to match people up with cats, maybe highlighting ones they otherwise might not look at,” she said. “When you see a cat go home with someone you’re happy because they have a good life ahead of them now.”

There’s another side benefit about being a cat condo assistant. Kim admitted, a little sheepishly.  “I tell people if you talked about cats non-stop for four hours in a normal situation people would think you’re a crazy cat lady,” she laughed. “But you come here and people come in and they want to talk about their cat at home or the cats that are here.”

Kim has had a range of duties in her 20 years at The WHS, and she brings to each job an enthusiasm and good nature that has the respect of her volunteer peers and staff alike. “Kim’s kind and enthusiastic nature is contagious!” said Rachel Roy of Adoptions. “Clients often approach me and mention what a great help Kim was when selecting their forever friend.”

Amy Moyer of Education agrees: “Kim is so knowledgeable when it comes to the cats up in adoption and I never hesitate to ask her which cats might like to come to birthday parties. She always has a smile on her face and always, without a doubt brightens my day.”

Thank you for making a difference, Kim!


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Safety a priority between dogs and toddlers in WHS workshop Thu, 12 May 2016 19:44:48 +0000 Continued]]> While a dog and toddler create opportunity for plenty of photos, precautions must be taken to keep both safe. The Winnipeg Humane Society is offering a workshop to teach parents how their dog and child can live in harmony and avoid injury.

The Dogs & Toddlers program teaches parents how to help both canine and child adjust to rapid changes

in the household. Dogs adjust to a child that is becoming more interactive and mobile, while the toddler learns how to respect the pet’s boundaries.

“Dogs communicate with us all the time through body language. It is important that parents learn what their dog is trying to say, especially around young children,” Dogs & Toddlers instructor Dr. Renee Will says. “Any dog, even those that have behaved well to this point, can become confused when a baby turns into an interactive toddler. This may lead to fear, which could become a dangerous situation.”

The workshop, for humans only, teaches parents how to introduce their kids to the family dog and properly pet and treat them. Participants also gain insight into making their dog feel comfortable around their growing child and why it’s important to provide the dog with a safe spot away from the toddler.

Dr. Will, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, will lead the workshop at The WHS classroom on May 26 at 7 p.m.

Learn more


Book a spot in Dogs & Toddlers

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10 Ways to be Kind to your Pets Thu, 05 May 2016 21:20:08 +0000 Continued]]> Header

Animals are kind to us. They’re selfless and loving companions, a source of camaraderie, and fill our lives with joy. It’s our duty and privilege to give them the respect, care, and kindness they deserve. That’s why we celebrate Be Kind to Animals Week from May 1-7.

While it’s important to be kind to animals year-round, the Be Kind to Animals Week campaign is a long-standing tradition that reminds us of all the ways we can be kind to our furry compadres. Being kind doesn’t necessarily mean committing to adopting an animal. There are many ways you can indirectly benefit animals and make them feel welcomed, cared for, and fulfilled.

We have a wonderful community of animal lovers, so we wanted to share some ways that you can be kind to an animal not only this week, but for the weeks (and months and years) to come!

1. Be kind by speaking for those who have no voice

Do you see an animal that looks to be in distress? If you’re inside the City of Winnipeg give our Animal Protection Officers a call at 204-982-2020 and let them know. If you live outside of Winnipeg and want to report an animal in distress, call the Provincial Vet’s Office at 204-945-8000.

2. Adopt…when you’re ready

Commit to adopting a pet from an animal shelter! Animals at The WHS are up to date with shots, spayed/neutered, and you’ll receive behaviour support from our knowledgeable staff along the way. If you feel prepared and ready for a pet, adopt one this week during Be Kind to Animals Week. If you aren’t quite ready, that’s okay! We want to make sure every adopter is prepared before making their commitment.

3. Your donations put smiles on animals faces

Donate! The majority of The WHS’s expenses in 2015 were dedicated to the WHS Clinic and Animal Care. You can be kind to an animal by donating either money or supplies that will help the animals feel cared for and loved.

4. Donate your time…as a volunteer

Donate your time….as a volunteer! The WHS has over 700 volunteers at any given time. Last year they committed over 42,000 hours of volunteer work in a variety of ways. We have cat cuddlers, dog walkers, clinic volunteers, animal care volunteers….even our administration area benefits from volunteers who help with a variety of critical tasks. When you’re a WHS volunteer, you are directly impacting and helping animals and they truly appreciate seeing you around the shelter. If you love animals, but can’t have one in your life, volunteering could be right for you.

5. Spay or neuter your pet to prevent unwanted litters

Our clinic performs hundreds of subsidized spay and neuter surgeries every month. It’s one of the most effective ways to combat cat overpopulation and prevents unwanted litters. Fewer unwanted animals on the streets of Winnipeg keeps our current pets safer and prevents more causalities and injuries in veterinarian offices.  If you already have a spayed or neutered pet, that’s great! Encourage your family and friends to do the same thing.

6. Play time is fun for you and your pet

Spend some time with your pet! They’re social creatures that love to play and interact. Get exercise with your dog by going for a walk or playing some catch. Cats love to play too. Find some interactive toys like cat wands or laser pointers that result in hours of enjoyment for the both of you.

7. Proper identification results in feel good stories

Identification is a very kind thing to do for your pet. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes animals do get lost. In order for your pet to have the best chance of returning home, make sure they have a tattoo ID number, a City of Winnipeg license, and even a microchip. If you move with your best friend, it’s critical to update your pet’s address too. That way we know where to contact you if your pet finds their way to the Winnipeg Humane Society.

8. Join in on the celebration of animals

Take part in the celebration of pets in June! The Fairmont Winnipeg Paws in Motion is Manitoba’s largest celebration of pets. Join animal lovers from all over the city for a pet-friendly walk-a-thon, booths, displays, live entertainment, and tons of activities for both you and your pet.

9. In the name of farm animals…eat humanely

Manitoba has a variety of humane foods, producers, and restaurants. Because many of the farms are independently owned and smaller, the supply is not always as consistent as large producers, but you can rest easy knowing what’s on your plate is humane. Shop for free run/organic eggs or opt to visit a local restaurant that uses local food in many of their menus items.

Meatless Monday is a global movement aimed at reducing meat consumption and benefits farm animals, impacts global warming, and your health! You’re not only being kind to animals, but also to the environment and yourself.

10. Bond with your dog over classes

Dog classes are an outstanding way for your and family to bond with your pet. They teach your pet discipline and other skills that will make them the perfect pet. They also love having a dedicated time of the week to hang out with their family and interact. The WHS offers a variety of classes from basic and advanced family dog classes, specialized reactive dog classes, and even a tricks and game class. Your dog will love you forever for this.

Happy Be Kind to Animals Week!

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I take them all home Tue, 12 Apr 2016 18:46:18 +0000 Continued]]> eab-02696-EditFB

By: Jim Harvey

I’ve been volunteering at the Winnipeg Humane Society for some time, working with the dogs once a week. I often mention to people I meet that I volunteer at the Winnipeg Humane Society and a very common response is, “Oh, I could not do that. I’d want to take all the dogs home with me.”

I often think to myself that if that were to happen, us folks who volunteer would have very crowded homes! But I understand the comment. They are saying they feel for the dogs and their situations and would like to take a dog home and give it stability and love so the dog can feel happy and secure.


While every dog is different, I find the dogs that I work with generally seem to fall into one of two types. The first types are the dogs who jump with excitement when I come near. They can hardly wait for that door to open, to be able get out, and have some contact with me.

The second type of dog that I encounter are more hesitant. Sometimes you open the door and they go to the back of the kennel to get as far away from me as possible. They are unsure and require patience and time to gain their trust. Sometimes, it takes a few attempts. But after turning the corner and gaining that trust, it feels like we can be friends forever.

It is always a gratifying feeling once the connection is made and the trust is granted. It is in this moment that I never cease to be amazed. Some dogs find the shelter very stressful. I think some must be confused about the situation they find themselves in. Others that I have met over the years have been chewed up by life. Yet there they are. Ready and willing to start fresh again with anyone who will take the time to make the connection.

It has struck me in the last while, that I treat each dog at the WHS in a very similar way that I treat my dog at home. I’ll squat down to their level and let them scooch right in so they can get in nice and close. Often as I’m squatting down I’ll say to the dog, “you tell me all about what’s going on”. I pet, scratch, and talk to them just as I do my own dog. I imagine what my life would be like with each dog at my side, what adventures we’d go on, the games we’d play, and the life we’d share.

And if dogs live in the moment, hopefully it is these moments that everything else that is going on around the two of us melts away. That the dog is able to put the stress of the shelter aside, feel the security of friendship, the warmth of some love, and just for those moments, feel like they are at home.

There is the saying, “home is where the heart is.” I’d like to make a change to this saying to read “home is within the heart.” All the dogs that I work with at the WHS are welcome.  I take them all home.

Dogs are beautiful animals.eab-02659-Edit

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