The Winnipeg Humane Society Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:12:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Animal rights leader Jo-Anne McArthur shares worldwide animal stories in Winnipeg Thu, 20 Oct 2016 15:15:16 +0000 Continued]]> joanne3

Photo courtesy of Jo-Anne McArthur

Author, photojournalist and animal activist Jo-Anne McArthur will share compelling stories and photos of animals from around the globe with Winnipeg’s animal welfare community. We Animals: Stories of Love and Liberation will be at The Park Theatre on October 25 at 7 p.m. It is presented by the Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) Farm Animal Compassion Committee.

McArthur travels the world and shares the grueling realities that animals face on factory farms, in bear bile farms, in the bushmeat trade, in the entertainment industry and more. But for every difficult story and photo shared, McArthur counters her presentation with stories of animal welfare leaders who inspire and help usher in an age of empathy.

“We must widen our circle of compassion to include all animals. I want to inspire people to care about animals and get active when it comes to helping because they are in dire need of our help,” says McArthur.

The Toronto-based animal welfare leader’s presentation is the latest in the WHS’s Farm Animal Compassion Committee Speaker Series and first to be held at The Park Theatre. Tickets can be purchased for $10 in advance at the WHS Gift Shop, online, or at the door. There will also be a vegan bake sale and silent auction on site in support of the WHS Farm Animal Compassion Committee.

McArthur’s book We Animals compiles a selection of her photos and stories from around the world and showcases the difficult human-animal relationships in today’s society. We Animals was also featured in the critically-acclaimed documentary The Ghosts in our Machine. The documentary follows McArthur’s travels as she explores how animals are used in food, fashion, entertainment and research.

]]> 0
The Ghosts in Our Machine examples our relationship with animals Fri, 14 Oct 2016 21:41:59 +0000 The following article is from the Fall 2013 Winnipeg Humane Society Newsletter. It features author, photojournalist, and animal welfare activist Jo-Anne McArthur. McArthur is featured in the documentary ‘The Ghosts in Our Machine’ as she travels the world documenting and sharing her experiences documenting animals living in abusive situations.

The Winnipeg Humane Society Farm Animal Compassion Committee presents McArthur’s speaking event ‘We Animals: Stories of Love and Liberation’ on October 25 at The Park Theatre. 

Buy your ticket today


]]> 0
National Pet Obesity Awareness Day sparks the question: Is your pet a healthy weight? Wed, 12 Oct 2016 13:47:34 +0000 Continued]]>

Nala lost over 20 pounds after being adopted in February 2015. Losing weight improved Nala’s life, and made her a brand new dog who was much more capable of being independent.

How much your pet is fed on a daily basis can be a perplexing question to answer as it depends on your pet’s breed, size and exercise routine. Oct. 12 is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day and a day of celebration for Kristie Bailey and Nala, her English Bulldog. Nala was obese when adopted from the Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) and Bailey helped her seven-year-old dog lose over 20 pounds through proper diet and exercise.

Nala’s exercise plan has increased her life span and relieved pressure on her joints and spine. Obese pets are more likely to live shorter lives, have high blood pressure, and are more difficult to medically diagnose according to Dr. Erika Anseeuw, Director of Animal Health at the Winnipeg Humane Society.

“Maintaining your pet’s weight should be front of mind if you want your pet to live a happy and healthy life,” says Dr. Anseeuw. Pet owners should carefully read the feeding instructions on their pet’s food to avoid overfeeding, but Anseeuw believes one of the biggest culprits of pet obesity are high calorie treats.

Pet obesity is a common trend, with some numbers showing the majority of cats and dogs to be obese. In 2015, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated that 53.8% of dogs and 58.2% of cats in the USA were obese. Dr. Anseeuw sees a similar trend among animals at the WHS.

Bailey has experienced pet obesity prevention first-hand while helping her dog Nala lose the weight. When Nala weighed 73 pounds in February 2015 she couldn’t climb stairs, get into vehicles, or jump on the couch for cuddling without assistance from her family. In order to go to the bathroom, Nala needed to be physically carried outside.

Nala was kept on a strict diet and slowly introduced to an exercise plan. After being adopted, Nala visited the WHS every weekend for a few months to get indoor exercise. Now that Nala is a healthier weight, she explores outside with other canines at dog parks and enjoys going for walks with other dogs because it gives her a pace to maintain.

High calorie treats were not allowed in Nala’s diet until she started losing weight. Eventually Nala became more independent and has a better quality of life. She can jump in and out of vehicles, onto the couch to be with her family, and can now take herself outside for bathroom breaks.

“Nala is so loving, affectionate and such a character. We just want to keep her happy, healthy, and give her the best opportunity for a great life,” says Bailey.

Nala has come a long way since losing weight. She’s now an expert ball fetcher, and loves taking part in a good ol’ Canadian tradition: Hockey. The videos below are some early clips of Nala before she lost her weight.

]]> 0
WHS’s grass-fed gala beef sets new farm animal welfare standard Wed, 28 Sep 2016 13:41:57 +0000 Continued]]>

For the first time in the 23-year history of the Bow Wow Ball gala, the Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) will serve grass-fed, humanely raised beef. The landmark decision means this year’s event – Phantom of the Pawpera – on Oct. 15, sets a new standard of food sourcing at WHS events.

“People are becoming more aware of how animals used for food are treated and the health benefits associated with humanely farmed meat,” says WHS CEO Javier Schwersensky. “Offering humanely raised beef from a local Manitoba farm is a momentous occasion for the WHS and promotes animal welfare within our province.”

Grass-fed beef lives a stress-free life on a pasture with room to roam and eats strictly a grass diet – the kind of diet cattle were meant to eat. Grass-fed beef contains less fat than grain-fed beef, but more of the healthy fats that promote weight loss and improve heart health.

Chef Eraj of The Fairmont Winnipeg, the venue of the Bow Wow Ball, will prepare the Edie Creek Angus Beef Bourguignon. Vegetarians will have the option of a truffle mushroom and root vegetable cannelloni.

The WHS was founded in 1894 with the mandate of protecting the welfare of all animals, including those raised on farms. In 2003, the WHS introduced its Quit Stalling campaign, which has helped reduce the number of sow stalls on farms in Manitoba. The WHS is also in discussion with Manitoba egg producers to accelerate the elimination of battery cages used in farms.

Tickets for the Bow Wow Ball can be purchased here until Oct. 2 and supports over 8,500 animals that will arrive at the WHS this year.

]]> 0
What I Don’t Know and What I Do… Mon, 26 Sep 2016 21:23:30 +0000 Continued]]> By Jim Harvey

Volunteer Jim Harvey doesn't know of the some of the abuse, neglect, and mistreatment some dogs faced before arriving at the WHS. What he does know is that when dogs leave the WHS, just like Austin pictured above, they leave with a bright new future.

Volunteer Jim Harvey doesn’t want to know why a dog arrives at the WHS as the stories are sometimes too painful to hear. What he does know is that when dogs leave the WHS, just like Austin pictured above, they leave with a bright new future. PHOTO BY: Jim Harvey.

My volunteer position at the Winnipeg Humane Society is ‘Dog Kennel Buddy’ which I’ve been doing for about three years now. The position involves working with the dogs that are housed in the back area of the shelter and taking them out into the yards for some exercise, nature calls, and some human contact.

Dogs who come into the shelter find themselves there for all sorts of reasons. Some dogs are found as strays. Others are surrendered because the owners cannot care for the dog. And, of course, some dogs come in after being injured, neglected, or abused.

Whatever the reason that brings a dog into the shelter, I just don’t want to know.

I always assume that when a dog is surrendered to the WHS, it is because something drastically changed for the owner who had to make an agonizing decision with no other choices. Any deviation from that story, I just don’t want to know.

Dogs that are brought in as strays? I don’t want to know what created the circumstances for the dog to become a stray in the first place.

Dogs that come in injured, neglected or abused. Not only do I not want to know what happened or how it happened, I don’t even want to imagine.

Not knowing the reasons of why a dog comes into the shelter is in part a defense mechanism. I know I would find it too upsetting knowing the real reasons and carry that with me for some time. I would rather come into the WHS and keep a positive attitude when I am working with the dogs.

In addition, the past is not going to change. We can only change what is going to happen in the future.

We would all prefer that a dog does not have to come into the WHS, but if a dog does come into the care of the WHS, here is what I do know.

I know that a dog that comes into the WHS is given food, shelter, and a warm place to lay down.

I know that if medical care is required, there are veterinary staff who will take care in its treatment and recovery.

I know that there is a behaviour team that will assess and if necessary work with a dog to give them a better chance at adoption and integration into their forever home.

I know that a dog will receive care, stimulation, and companionship from many volunteers who give their time and energy.

I know that the dog benefits greatly from people who generously give money to help in the dog’s care.

And most importantly, I know that one day, the ultimate goal for the dog will be realized when it moves into its forever home. That happy day will be due to the countless people who have helped the dog, starting the very first minute it came into the WHS to the moment it walks out the door on its way for a bright new future.

]]> 0
September 2016 MVP: Cindy Pischke Mon, 19 Sep 2016 20:11:30 +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.

September 2016 MVP: Cindy Pischke


There are many reasons why someone would choose to volunteer their time to a given cause, but a life-Cindy-Pischke-1blog1long love of animals sealed the deal for Winnipeg Humane Society volunteer Cindy Pischke.

“I’ve had dogs all my life – usually two at a time – and my last one was 16 and it took me a year to get over that,” she explained.  “I love all animals but I’m a bit more attracted to dogs because of the unique bond that they have with people.”

Cindy started volunteering as a dog walker and customer service representative in mid-2011. She also tried other areas but found that she really enjoyed being hands-on with the dogs. So now she is a ‘yellow’ dog walker, which is the highest designation for volunteer dog walkers at the WHS. Cindy has the ability and experience to deal with dogs that do not handle being on a leash as well or exhibit inappropriate behaviours that need correcting.

In addition, she’s also a behaviour assistant. “The behaviour department has been really good,” she said. “They recruited me  two years ago and I have been working with them ever since. ”

Between the two roles, Cindy can be at the Humane Society up to four times a week. “I was going through a transition after I retired, so I spent a lot of time here,” she said. It’s a pace she’s maintained – in five-plus years she has put in over 1600 hours of volunteer time.

“I’m not one to sit still,” she laughed. “If I’m done everything I need to do at home I check the Volgistics (volunteer log-in) system and if there’s openings or I see a lot of cancellations I come in. I also find it easier to work with dogs if I have developed a good relationship – and that means coming in more often”.

Cindy also takes her work home with her, in a manner of speaking. She enjoys taking certain dogs on day  trips. “I don’t have any pets living at home because right now the timing is not right for our family due to travel,” she explained. “So I take designated dogs out of the shelter and it’s so rewarding to give them a break and to be able to work and play with them in the back yard and in the house to see what their behaviour is like outside of WHS. I report their behaviours back and the information all goes into their file, which helps give potential adopters more information.”

In one case, she added, she  provided relief  for a couple of weeks to a dog that had been at the shelter for more than 300 days  before the dog was eventually placed in a foster home.

“Not all volunteers can do that because they have pets at home. Luckily, I am in a position where these are my dogs for now and I love them all,” she said. “They’re all special in their own way.”

There’s a special fondness for those dogs that have been at the shelter the longest. “I spend most of my time with the long-Cindy Pischke-5blog2termers,” she said. “There’s about eight of them and I tend to keep my eye on those guys.

“With the long-term dogs especially, I’ll connect with the Behaviour Department on what they might need on any given day. I will sometimes take the dogs into the Joyce Gauthier Behaviour Centre and we’ll play ball or “find-it” or have them do puzzles and other games that stimulate their brains.”

There’s also a competitive fire burning in Cindy that fuels her commitment to the WHS. Volleyball is the reason for this competitiveness: Cindy was a volleyball player, both she and her husband Garth won three national university volleyball titles as players and he  is the long-time coach of the University of Manitoba Bisons volleyball team and two-time Olympian. Their son Dane played for the Bisons for five years and was a Team Canada athlete and their daughter Taylor, also holds a university title and is currently a member of Team Canada’s national beach volleyball team.

“Our family is very competitive,” Cindy laughed. “Sometimes everything becomes a competition, so it became a competition for me, telling myself ‘I can do this,’ so then I tried it and it was great. I learned a lot. I took some courses and the behaviour staff (she praised Catherine, Andrew, Lisa (now working in the development department), Sara, and Stephanie) trained me in a lot of areas. There’s always stuff you can learn and eventually I progressed to Yellow status and Behaviour Assistant.”

Her hard work and dedication has earned her the admiration of her peers. “I’ve always found Cindy to be friendly and cheery and more than willing to help out a new volunteer at the Humane Society,” said dog walker Glen Dawkins. “She’s very deserving of this MVP honour.”

She credits the people around her for making it so enjoyable. “The staff and volunteers here are awesome,” she said. “The animal care workers, adoptions staff, behaviour staff, clinic staff, and admin – they’re all just great! There’s a really good community of people here with all the volunteers. I love it. I’m going to keep doing this.

“I believe in community service,” she concluded. “I wish everybody could do something somewhere. Could you imagine if everybody could volunteer two hours a week somewhere? It’s not much time and there are so many places that could use a hand.”

]]> 0
Guest Blog: Support Bill C-246 Fri, 09 Sep 2016 20:57:08 +0000 Continued]]> The following blog is written by Debbie Wall. Wall is from Winnipeg and supports Bill C-246, a Private Member’s Bill currently in the House of Commons, which aims to modernize animal protection laws in Canada.

It makes my blood boil when I hear of stories like Asha’s, the poor northern Manitoba pup whose abuser posted a video of his cruelty towards her online.  But I don’t hold my breath thinking that he or other perpetrators will receive any type of meaningful punishment.  Canada has the shameful distinction of having some of the weakest animal protection laws in the world. The animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code, first enacted in 1892 to address the protection of livestock, fall under offenses against property. They have not been meaningfully updated since 1954, thus falling behind in the dust of our society’s evolving attitudes towards animals.  They are riddled with loopholes, making it impossible for prosecutors to make successful convictions, even in extreme cases of animal cruelty.

Private Member’s Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, was introduced into Parliament this spring by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith with the intent of bringing our laws into the 21st Century.  It will move animal cruelty crimes to a new section of the Criminal Code called “Offenses against Animals.”  While they would still be considered property, it would recognize that animals deserve more protection than, say, a chair.

The bill would make it easier to convict in cases of extreme neglect, make it illegal to profit from animal fighting and close loopholes, including those related to bestiality and the killing of stray animals.  It would also strengthen sentences for repeat abusers with a mandatory lifetime ban on animal ownership for any person convicted of animal cruelty for a second time.  Also included are the banning of shark finning and the import of dog and cat fur into Canada as well as requiring that all fur products be labelled with the species of origin.  What it will NOT do, as has been falsely claimed by fear mongers, is affect animal agriculture, animal research, hunting, fishing or existing aboriginal and treaty rights

In a June 2015 survey conducted by Environics Research Group, 92% of Canadians agreed that the Criminal Code should be updated to make it easier to convict people who commit acts of cruelty to animals.  It is now time for those Canadians to make their voices heard, loud and clear, when it matters the most.  The fate of Bill C-246 is to decided  the third week of September.  Please contact your MP and tell them that you want them to support the Modernizing Animal Protections Act.  Asha, and others like her, have waited long enough for justice.

For more information on Bill C-246, click here.

Print and sign this letter in support of Bill C-246 and send it to Prime Minster Justin Trudeau.

-Debbie Wall

]]> 0
Manage your dog’s anxiety during storms Fri, 02 Sep 2016 18:41:38 +0000 Continued]]> A thunderstorm can mean many things to people. For some, it’s a ruined day that could have been spent outside, while others find the flashes of lightning and cracks of thunder to be mystifying and calming. But for dogs, thunder and lightning can have an opposite effect. When the clouds roll through the skies and thunder echoes in the streets, our dogs can become frightened. To a dog, this ‘unnatural’ phenomenon can make it feel like the world is crashing down.

Thunderstorms can create anxiety in a dog and you may find them in hiding, trembling and – in severe cases – even cause a dog to damage the house by clawing at dry wall and furniture. But with some understanding, work and patience you can help your dog manage anxiety during thunderstorms and other loud unexpected noises such as fireworks.

Puppy blocking its ears and looking up

Unexpected loud noises, such as thunderstorms and fireworks can terrify your dog. But with some patience and work you can help your pet manage.

Have a safe space

Just like how a child might have a security blanket, a dog will benefit from having a safe space where they know nothing can go wrong. The safe space can be in the basement, in a crate, or anywhere else in your household. Rewarding your dog with a treat or a bone will reinforce the idea that their safe space is a place where good things happen. Stay with your pup during the storm, comfort them with some petting and talk to them in a soothing voice. Your dog will appreciate knowing that you will be by their side during the thunderstorm.

But it’s important to make sure your dog doesn’t only associate this location with thunderstorms. If you only bring the dog to the safe spot when thunderstorms are occurring, your pet will associate the area with the storms; so even when the skies are clear, take some time to hang out with your dog in its safe space.

Sporting snug garments and anxiety collars

Most people feel comfort with a nice big hug. Sometimes that’s exactly what your dog needs during a thunderstorm. Consider purchasing an anxiety vest for your dog to wear when thunderstorms are approaching. There are a variety of makes and brands, but they all serve the same purpose. Anxiety vests fit snuggly around the dog and create pressure on the body. This pressure calms a dog during tense situations.

Dogs can also wear an anxiety collar to help minimize anxious tendencies. These collars release pheromones which can calm a dog down.

Medication is an option

The use of medication is a form of additional help, but should always be discussed with your veterinarian. Medication options vary from herbal drops in water to pharmaceuticals and help your dog through stressful situations. It’s important to remember that giving your dog medication to deal with anxiety does not mean you have failed them. It only means you are doing everything you can to help your beloved friend deal with its challenges.


It’s important to be patient and understanding when your dog deals with anxiety. Your dog’s reaction to a thunderstorm is beyond its control and you might need to experiment with the above strategies to find what method best suits your pup. During that time, it’s important to stay positive and not show any signs of frustration to your dog. If you continue to be positive and reinforce your dog, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding. The WHS is always here for you through the process too. Call our Yelp Line for behaviour advice at 204-988-8808.

Is your dog anxious during thunderstorms? Call our Behaviour Yelp Line for advice at 204-988-8808 and visit Books such as The Cautious Canine by Patricia McConnell and Help for Your Fearful Dog by Nicole Wilde act a good guide for curbing fearful behaviour in your dog.

Learn more about dog anxiety in this month’s CTV Pet Ed segment.

]]> 0
Extending and Inspiring Compassion Mon, 29 Aug 2016 16:43:31 +0000 Continued]]> ChapenWHSOnlineThe Winnipeg Humane Society’s Farm Animal Compassion committee presents Nikki Chapen’s free public lecture: Inspiring Compassion, Putting our Ethics on the Table. The lecture will take place in the WHS Classroom on Thursday, September 1 at 7 p.m.

Chapen’s talk will focus on understanding the animals we often think of as food and extend our circle of compassion to include them.  She also addresses factory farming practices and provides information and tips on making more compassionate food choices.

Chapen and her partner Trevor are Winnipeg’s Volunteer Outreach Coordinators for Mercy For Animals. Chapen is an animal rights activist who has devoted her life to speaking out for animals in the food, fashion and entertainment industries.


]]> 0
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.”

]]> 0