Skip to content
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube

CEO Blog: How Bacon impacted the WHS… and more progressive changes coming


Spring is on the horizon and change is in the air!

We’ve had a long, busy winter at the Winnipeg Humane Society, looking after animals in need. We’ve also been busy preparing to implement some new changes around the shelter, based on feedback from you, our friends and supporters. We’re excited to finally share them with you today. All three of these changes will go into effect on April 1st.

Change #1: Helping pets and humans save their relationship

It was just another day at the shelter this past September 12. I was busy tending to various projects, replying to emails, the typical CEO work. And then… two visitors came to see me, unscheduled and unexpectedly.

It was a couple, and they wanted to talk to me about Bacon, their dog. He was not a WHS dog, but he was living in Winnipeg with his human family.

Bacon needed help, urgently.

They adopted Bacon as a puppy. As he grew, he began to exhibit very high forms of aggression; going after other dogs but more worryingly, people. With children in the house and other dogs around, this family did not know what to do.

They hired trainers. They went to a veterinarian to check for illness or any other issues. They looked for online resources. But Bacon was becoming more and more aggressive.

In the meantime, they did not want to surrender the dog, or simply choose to euthanize it. But they were running out of options. So, they decided to turn to the Winnipeg Humane Society for help. And what they found out is that we did not have enough resources to help them.

Thanks to Bacon, we knew that something was missing.

We were not set-up to help pets and their humans individually if they were committed to their relationship and did not want to surrender the pet. After hearing the story and seeing how far Bacon’s family had gone to get him to improve, we did provide e assistance as a “one-time only”.

While the WHS could not accept Bacon as an adoption candidate, the family found Pliant Pack(*), a local boarding and training facility who accepted Bacon and he is making very good progress.

Now the one-time only is about to change.

The Winnipeg Humane Society is creating a new Behaviour and Community Support Department which will take on not only the work we currently do with surrendered and stray animals, and all the excellent classes we provide, but also we are opening our expertise to one-on-one consultations.

Have a concern with your pet? Do you need help? Stay tuned because very soon you will be able to access this new one-on-one service.

Change #2: Pets belong in good homes, not shelters, and we will make sure they get there as safely and fast as possible

The WHS has fully adopted the Capacity for Care model, which tries to reduce the amount of time a pet spends in the shelter. As part of this model, we are consolidating our Animal Intake, Foster and Capacity for Care areas in order to improve the flow of pets from the moment they arrive to the time they are ready for adoptions.

This means that whether you are bringing in a stray, speaking to staff about the Care to Adopt and Care to Rehome programs or picking up a foster animal, everyone will have one point of service contact in our Intake area. The Intake staff will now be able to assist with vaccinating foster animals, providing supplies, discharging animals into foster care, admitting animals returning from foster care, and scheduling medical appointments.

Change #3: We all need to pitch-in to save animals

After careful consideration and a great deal of consultation, we are introducing admission fees for animals being surrendered to the shelter by their human caregivers.

The Winnipeg Humane Society is a charity. We must pay our bills through a combination of donations from the public and fees. With costs going up constantly, we need to make sure we balance the need to be there for all animals with the realities of running a large operation.

For those individuals caring for a pet and not able to keep them anymore, we will ask to book an admission appointment and when the time comes to bring the pet, we will charge an admission fee, to help offset the cost of the initial medical and behavioural assessments required to ensure the health and well being of our new guest.

If the person is not willing to help their pet by waiting until we have proper resources and space for them, we will then ask for an additional admission fee to leave the animal in our care immediately. These admission fees will apply to unscheduled stray animals as well.

Let me be clear: money will never prevent any pet from receiving our help. Injured animals will be immediately accepted without any fees. Stray animals found within Winnipeg city limits with a surrender appointment will continue to be admitted at no charge.

Scheduling makes it possible to save more animals than ever before. Every pet requires vet checks and possibly treatment from the clinic, we test their behaviour, they need food and staff to keep their quarters clean, they need staff to find great homes for them when they’re ready. We need everyone to pitch in.

Thank you for your support, your ideas, and your commitment to our organization. Our goal is simple: to give every pet a fair chance to fine a new opportunity to thrive. These changes are all aimed at achieving this goal.


In service,

Javier Schwersensky


(*) The WHS does not endorse any specific trainer or training facility. The mention on this blog of a specific company has been done in the interest of informing the reader about what happened to Bacon.