To be a model of excellence in the advancement of animal welfare.
The Edmonton Humane Society enriches the lives of people and companion animals through animal sheltering, programs and services, and community engagement.
Message from Our Board Chair
As I look back on my second year as Board Chair for the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS), it’s clear to me that we are on a positive path as an organization, thanks to our robust strategic plan, dedicated team and your support.
The unwavering commitment you have shown us over the last year has granted us the opportunity to move our plans forward and, as you will see throughout the pages of this report, accomplish so much.
In 2022, we were once again able to invite our community into the shelter and venture out into the community, reconnecting through our humane education program and multiple events.
We’ve taken some massive strides forward in our strategic plan in 2022, successfully completing and implementing some major foundational pieces to support a healthy, safe and respectful workplace for our staff and volunteers, renewing our risk management plan, and developing and updating key governance policies and procedures including asset management.
Our adoption numbers returned to pre-pandemic levels, as 3091 animals found new homes in 2022, the most adoptions we’ve seen since 2019. We actively worked to address community cat over-population by hosting two large-scale Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) clinics and performing 878 spay and neuter surgeries through our PALS program.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to present you with the Edmonton Humane Society’s 2022 Annual Report. While I am thrilled to share with you all that we’ve done over the past year, I am even more excited to see what 2023 will bring, thanks to your ongoing support.
2022 Board of Directors
Message from Our CEO
2022 was a year of renewal for the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS). We spent a successful year re-establishing and building on our strong organizational foundation through our animal sheltering, programs, and services, and we were able to reconnect with our community – none of which would have been possible without your support.
Over the past three years, we have had to pull together as an organization, reimagine strategies, solve new problems and implement creative solutions. I’m extremely proud of what our dedicated team of staff and volunteers have accomplished, moving our plans forward.
Together, we achieved incredible progress on our 2020-24 strategic plan, which you will find throughout the pages of this annual report. Some notable highlights include: bringing back signature community events like our Pets in the Park festival and Dog Dive, two large-scale trap-neuter-return (TNR) clinics alongside the Canadian Animal Task Force, completing our first full season of our Mobile Prevent Another Litter Subsidy (PALS) program, seeing all the excited day campers here in the shelter over the summer, and working alongside our EHS Champion Kids as they volunteered at our events.
Since I joined EHS, we have worked extremely hard to become an employer of choice, recognizing that we cannot provide the best possible care for the animals who depend on us if we do not care for our people too. One of the biggest highlights of 2022 for me personally was learning we were a recipient of the 2022 Nonprofit Employer of Choice Award for the second year in a row. While we still have much work to do, this accomplishment is a sign of the massive strides we have taken together.
I cannot express enough how important you are to making these achievements possible. Thank you for being a part of this journey to enrich the lives of people and pets throughout our community. You are truly making a difference.
Advancing Animal Welfare
Advancing animal welfare is at the heart of everything we do. With a focus on continual improvement, we undertook multiple initiatives this past year to ensure we exceed best practices in animal welfare.
Strengthened Our Medical Care
In 2022, EHS’s Animal Health team continued to provide superior medical care for shelter animals by implementing progressive practices to achieve positive animal outcomes. Improvements were made to current medical and equipment protocols based on best practices and latest research, including developing a new protocol to help protect shelter birds from the avian influenza.
Mentored Veterinary Professionals of the Future
The Medical Department hosted student clinical rotations and mentorships throughout the year from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Medical Assistant and Animal Health Technologist programs at NAIT, as well as week-long surgery rotations for Pulse Veterinary Specialists.
Stepped Towards Veterinary Medicine Excellence
Dr. Michelle Meckelborg, EHS Director of Animal Health and Shelter Veterinarian, accepted a volunteer Board position with the newly formed Canadian Animal Shelter and Community Medicine Association and successfully completed a fellowship from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of California – Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program UW/UDC Combined Shelter Medicine Fellowship.
Assessed Our Position Statements
Updating and creating position statements was an important focus in 2022, as position statements reflect where EHS stands on various animal welfare issues and are based on the latest evidence-based research and our values as an organization. In addition to EHS statements, our Animal Welfare Advisor assisted Humane Canada with their national position statements review.
Advocated for Animal Welfare in Research
Our Animal Welfare Advisor joined MacEwan University’s Animal Research and Ethics Board, responsible for reviewing and approving any research involving the use of live animals to ensure animal use is justified and their welfare is maintained.
Promoting Safety in Our Community
EHS worked with Edmonton Fire and Rescue Services, providing input into a fireworks bylaw, which will be incorporated into forthcoming changes to the city’s Public Places Bylaw in 2023.
Did you know…?
We used 27,758 pounds of food to feed all the dogs in our care last year. Over 25% of that food was generously donated to us!
Average Length of Stay
*Ancillary intakes include animals born in care.
Sabrina P. Salem
The Resilient Cat
Sabrina P. Salem – a beautiful white domestic short haired cat with a sweet and friendly personality – was about two years old when she came to EHS.
She was admitted into our care with a huge 15 cm wound across the right side of her body and along her neck and cheek and two smaller wounds on her hind limbs.
She needed pain medication and antibiotics right away. To prevent her from licking at her wounds, several of our wonderful volunteers stepped up to knit comfortable soft collars for her to wear.
After cleaning her wound and performing a biopsy, our Veterinary team diagnosed a rare skin disease – feline idiopathic ulcerative dermatitis. It was decided that the best place for her to recover would be with one of our dedicated foster families.
Unfortunately, even with all her treatment and the love and care from her foster families, one wound stopped healing, making surgery her only option.
After three months in our care, Sabrina was finally ready to be put up for adoption. Just one week after being put up for adoption, this beautiful cat found her new loving home.
Her adopter tells us that Sabrina is settled in and that her fur is coming back. Sabrina has found a loving home and is now thriving.
Supporting Animals in Care
Brought a Focus to Animal Health
As part of our continued commitment to the Million Cat Challenge and Capacity for Care (C4C), EHS created a Team Lead position within the Animal Health team, responsible for oversight of programs such as social feeding and quarantine enrichment, aimed at shortening length of stay for animals requiring advanced nursing care due to medical issues or environmental stressors.
Expanded Our Foster Care Supports
Recognizing the growing need for foster homes and the benefits associated with fostering animals, a second Foster Coordinator position was added in 2022 to help better support foster families and speed up the recruitment, training and stewardship of our foster volunteers. Both Foster Coordinator roles require a Veterinary Medical Assistant certificate, allowing the coordinators to perform basic medical duties and answer medical questions – supporting our medical team. The foster program expanded to include office fostering, placing animals with special needs in EHS staff offices, increasing the program capacity and staff happiness at the same time.
Improved How We Provide Care
The Animal Care and Behaviour teams’ schedules were restructured this past year, improving support, training and coverage. New metrics were created to measure shelter capacity, which includes available foster families, number of slow-track and fast-track animals and length of stay goals for each animal.
Showcased Animals’ Personality Front and Center
Understanding that a pet’s personality is a deciding factor for most adopters, we added personality and characteristic information to each online pet profile. Our Animal Flow Specialist created a process for volunteers to share their experiences with each animal, so their feedback can now be added to the animal’s profile, highlighting positive experiences and their unique dispositions.
Improved Our Behaviour Assessments and Training
The Behaviour Department implemented FAID (Functional Assessment and Intervention Design) behaviour modification plans for our dogs, to help with behaviour modification, targeting issues directly one at a time. Training videos for volunteers were developed by the Behaviour team to further knowledge, build confidence for both the volunteers and dogs, and decrease incidents in the shelter.
Enriched the Lives of Shelter Canines
Staff and volunteers began taking shelter dogs to our six-week training sessions to help ready them for adoption. To decrease canine boredom, kennel frustration and increase socialization and adoptability, staff run large dog play groups daily for dogs that are compatible.
Did you know…?
110 of dogs in our care spent over 1,624 hours in behaviour modification.
Creating a Better Adoption Experience
Expanded Our Animal Adoption Capabilities
2022 saw an increase in online adoption requests over recent years. In order to accommodate the growth, our Adoptions team augmented their schedule, adding more adoption and consultation times, including scheduling Monday appointments while we are closed to the public.
Developed New Programs and Resources to Support Adopters
Educating, supporting and following up with adopters, is an important component of the work we do, so we created and published several resources for cats, dogs and small animals, developed a new six-week Cooperative Care Basics training class to help guardians with their newly adopted dogs, and we created a litter care package for cat guardians who need extra support with litter training.
Enhanced Our Canine Training Classes
To increase our capacity for post-adoption and behavioural consultations and canine classes, three new contract Trainers were hired for our Training Academy to support our Head Trainer. We also purchased and installed new agility equipment, which is a great benefit to our existing class schedule and is also utilized by our Training and Behaviour teams to support enrichment of our shelter dogs. This equipment also allowed us to begin offering two new classes, Agility Pop-in and six-week Beginners Agility classes.
*Ancillary outcomes include deceased on arrival, humane euthanasia, unassisted deaths, and animals continuing in care at the end of December 2022.
The Courageous Canine
Nova, a three-year-old border collie shepherd mix, came into our care emaciated and her face and muzzle were unnaturally swollen, oozing discharge from a nasty encounter with a porcupine.
We found quills under the skin of her chest, shoulder and leg. During her spay surgery, we also removed quills embedded in her tongue and chin. Nova also needed antibiotics for healing and anti-inflammatories for relief from her pain.
Once she began to heal from her injuries, our Behaviour team became integral in her recovery. They worked diligently with Nova on her confidence level, especially on leash. Nova went from being too shy and fearful to walk on leash when she arrived to learning to walk with ease!
Now sweet-natured Nova has been adopted and has happily settled into her new loving home. Her adopter says that Nova is a wonderful walking buddy and likes to play chase. She is bonded to her new family and always greets them with happy tail wags, rolling over for belly rubs.
In our efforts to lead and inspire humane action, EHS sought out new opportunities, actively engaged with and established new community partners in 2022, helping make a difference for animals outside of our shelter and keep them with their families.
In-Person Humane Education Programs Returned
Relaunching our Humane Education programs was a highlight of 2022, as we ventured back into schools, YMCA out-of-school care centres and Edmonton Public Libraries. Our team participated in Read-In Week, visiting 32 classes in a single week! For the first time since 2019, we held summer and winter day camps and hosted our fifth ‘Be Kind to Animals Week’ in May. 51 educators joined, receiving free lesson plans with daily activities on how to show kindness to animals.
Fostered Collaboration in Animal Welfare
The newly established Animal Welfare Coalition of Alberta, of which EHS is a member, moved into a new phase, launching its website and tackling animal welfare issues. Together, we are promoting a professional and collaborative animal welfare industry in Alberta and responsible pet guardianship.
Forged Partnerships to Help Animals in Need
In 2022, we were able to provide veterinary care, housing, food, emergency assistance and other supports to our community partners at Berkley’s Place, Alberta SPCA, Boyle Street Community Services, Bissell Centre, WILDNorth, HART Rescue, Albertans Helping Animals Society, Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, Canadian Animal Task Force, food banks, communities and municipalities throughout the Capital Region and northern Alberta. We also continued to work closely with the City of Edmonton Animal Care and Control Centre and Edmonton Police Service Animal Cruelty Investigation Unit.
Continued Efforts to Help Animals Stay in Loving Homes
In an effort to reduce surrenders of sick and injured pets when their guardians face financial hardship, EHS continued to work with Tails of Help. Just over 10% of surrenders to EHS are for financial or pet health-related reasons. The program goal is to help one family per month receive veterinary care due to unexpected, one-time concerns, keeping the pet in their home and preventing the heartbreaking decision to surrender or euthanize from financial constraints.
Provided More Accessible Spay and Neuter Services
The mobile PALS (Prevent Another Litter Subsidy) surgical unit wrapped up its first full season in October, taking our subsidized spay and neuter services on the road and making them more accessible to the community. Over 300 spay and neuter surgeries were conducted within the community with the help of our generous donors, including the Gordon & Diane Buchanan Family Foundation, Chadi Family Foundation and Pet Valu’s Companions for Change program, as well as funding and support provided by our partners at the City of Edmonton’s Animal Care and Control Centre.
Facilitated Successful Trap-Neuter-Return Clinics
We joined forces with the Canadian Animal Task Force (CATF) in 2022 to host two large-scale trap-neuter-return (TNR) clinics at our shelter’s veterinary centre. In total, 140 feral adult cats were spayed or neutered. The adult cats were returned to their home colony the following day, where a designated caregiver monitors and ensures their ongoing health and kittens were adopted out by EHS.
Did you know…?
Typically, cats, dogs, kittens, puppies, rabbits and Guinea pigs are the variety of animals that come through our shelter, but 2022 held a few surprises. Hedgehogs, hamsters and degus were some interesting pocket pets adopted out into new families. Budgies, canaries, finches, doves and cockatiels either found new homes through EHS or were transferred to our partners at Meika’s Safehouse Bird Rehabilitation and Re-homing Centre, who specialize in exotic birds. We also transferred a few wildlife patients to our partners at WILDNorth Northern Alberta Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, including a duck, magpie and hare.
Our people are at the core of everything we do: without them, we cannot care for the animals who need us most. That’s why we’re working to be an employer of choice and the best place to volunteer in Edmonton.
Cultivated Growth in Our Volunteer Program
After having relaunched our volunteer programs in 2021, we were excited to grow our volunteer program in 2022. We recruited, trained and welcomed back event volunteers, dog walkers, canine, feline and small animal enrichment volunteers, medical volunteers, TNR volunteers, mobile PALS assistant volunteers, foster families, pet photographers, corporate volunteers and added new four-legged volunteer ambassadors to venture out and represent us in the community. The extra support that volunteers provide is critical to making our shelter animals’ stays as comfortable and enriching as possible.
Gained a Better Understanding of Our Community
Our staff work every day to create a better adoption experience and raise awareness of the work we do in our community. In order to achieve that connection and provide support, we must continually take steps to better understand our community. This year our staff attended a workshop aimed at helping to identify culturally safe approaches to our work and implementing trauma-informed practice into our approach.
Supported Our Staff
Supporting our staff is paramount, as their jobs can be difficult at times. This year, our staff attended a workshop on how to mitigate the effects of burn out and compassion fatigue.
Opened Up More Lines of Communication
As COVID-19 restrictions continued to ease in early 2022, we remained committed to doing everything possible to keep our team safe and supported. Ongoing pandemic updates and staff pulse surveys opened communication to ensure consistent flow of information and gauge how staff were feeling about EHS’ approach. While the pandemic initiated these steps, they continue to be an important factor in moving us towards being an employer of choice.
Nurtured a Supportive Workplace
A new performance management system was introduced, promoting on-going development, and encouraging collaboration towards our organizational goals. Additionally, we transitioned to a hybrid workplace with some roles continuing to telecommute, recognizing the benefits of offering a flexible workplace.
A Nonprofit Employer of Choice
In part thanks to these actions, EHS was proud to once again be named a Nonprofit Employer of Choice (NEOC) for 2022. The two-step assessment included an organization profile evaluating the nonprofit leadership attributes and human resources policies, practices, and procedures, in addition to a comprehensive employee survey. Based on this assessment, EHS was among 16 organizations across Canada to be named a Nonprofit Employer of Choice.
Without you — our supporters — EHS cannot provide our critical programs and services to the community. That’s why we’re focused on cultivating the resources to achieve our vision and mission.
A Record-Setting GivingTuesday
GivingTuesday provides the community a chance to show their philanthropic spirit annually. In 2022, Champion Petfoods committed to matching GivingTuesday donations to EHS. This doubled the impact of the first $20,000 donated that day. EHS’ supporters responded overwhelmingly; your generous gifts totalled over $150,000!
PAWS Monthly Donors: Vital to the Success of Our Organization
Monthly donors are an essential part of sustaining the Edmonton Humane Society’s operations and fulfilling its mission of supporting animals in need. As a non-profit organization that relies on donations to provide crucial services such as sheltering, rehabilitation, and adoption for thousands of animals each year, monthly donors provide a reliable and consistent source of funding that enables EHS to plan and execute programs with greater certainty. These donors demonstrate their ongoing commitment to animal welfare by making a recurring contribution that allows the EHS to allocate resources effectively and efficiently. At the end of 2022, we had a remarkable 2196 committed monthly supporters give over $66,000 each month.
A Legacy that Makes a Difference for People & Pets
Planned gifts continued to make a significant impact, with over $1.6 million dollars in planned gifts received in 2022. Many donors choose to leave a gift to EHS in their will through a charitable bequest. These generous gifts vary from a few thousand dollars to making EHS their sole beneficiary. Our hearts are warmed knowing these donors care so much for companion animals that they include them in the legacy they leave behind. These gifts are selfless and very much appreciated as they show a final act of kindness towards the animals in our community.
This year’s Pets in the Park had much to celebrate, as it returned in-person to Hawrelak Park for its 30th anniversary. Our fur-tastic festival brought 10,000 animal lovers and their pets together for a fun day full of events and activities. This event is the only day of the year that Edmontonians are allowed to bring their pets to Hawrelak Park and the weather did not disappoint! Pets in the Park and our Run/Walk raised over $110,000!
Since 2008, our partners at Coventry Homes and the Paws & Claws Gala have raised over 1.5 million dollars in support of our community programs and services. Over the years, they have continually provided EHS with the unique and meaningful opportunity to publicly celebrate the work we do through the Paws & Claws Gala and sponsorship of the Oilers 50/50s, all in support of our animals.
Our Champion Kids program was launched in partnership with Champion Petfoods, in recognition of amazing kids who fundraise for EHS through donating birthday money in lieu of gifts or holding small events in support in support of our animals.
Danika – who is ten years old – hosted an activity hole at a local golf tournament and raised $3,500 for EHS from her efforts, which is double the amount she raised in 2021!
The Gordon & Diane Buchanan Family Foundation hosted the Haute Dog Gala & Fashion Show – The Trilogy at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in support of our mobile PALS surgical unit. This successful event featured special guests and exciting main-stage fashions, silent auctions, and a few surprises. Fun was had by all, including both two- and four- legged attendees!
It was a beautiful day in August for the 5th annual Puttin’ Fore Paws: Drive, Dine and Dogs event, hosted by LloydSadd Insurance, which raised $7,700! This wonderful event started out as an 18 Hole Texas Scramble, but changed in 2020 due to the pandemic, to a successful driving range event, creating a fun, safe way to continue to raise funds for EHS.
In June, the Edmonton Riverhawks baseball team held the first annual Hawks and Hounds event, a fundraiser which included pre-game agility activities for dogs in attendance and raised over $2,500 in support of EHS.
Summer ended with a splash at our Dog Dive! This is the only day of the year dogs can play in the City of Edmonton’s Oliver Pool. Pups and people took a much-needed dive, as the temperature soared to over 32 degrees that day – a hot one to close out the season on September 3rd.
At the 24th Annual National Philanthropy Day event, EHS had the opportunity to recognize two outstanding Edmontonians who have made an indelible mark on our work and in the lives of companion animals: Jay Downton, a Pets in the Park sponsor and EHS advocate and Harmony, an EHS Champion Kid.
Two MADE for PETS markets took place in 2022, supporting local makers and hosted in partnership with our neighbours at the City of Edmonton’s Animal Care and Control Centre.
Our popular Pet Pics with Santa was offered in-person for the first time since 2019, bringing guardians and their pets to the shelter to meet the big guy himself for their holiday family photo. We hosted many dogs, cats and even a snake!
The foundational pieces of our organization – such as strategies and frameworks, policies and procedures, maintaining a best class facility, fiscal responsibility and achieving governance excellence – may not be as thrilling as cute puppies and kittens. However, achieving operational excellence is vital to supporting EHS’ future growth.
Improved Our Shelter Facility
Facility improvements directly contribute to the health and welfare of our animals. Our dog walking path was widened, regraded and paved and improvements were made to the animal living quarters in our facility. This included updating the dog life rooms to reduce wear-and-tear, installing privacy slats to the two large outdoor backyard pens to reduce anxiety for dogs, and revitalizing the dog pool area. MERV-13 air filters were installed on the administrative side of the facility, bringing up the filtration levels to match the animal care side of the building and meeting the levels recommended for reducing transmission of COVID-19 and animal related airborne illnesses.
Implemented New and Improved Policies
Our Senior Leadership team is committed to making sure we have all the necessary policies and procedures in place so we can truly be a leader in the animal welfare space, while following best practice in policy and accessing outside counsel to help with management decisions. Some projects included creating and updating Asset Management, Whistleblower and Segregation of Duties policies and launching a new External Relations Advisory Panel.
Assessed Our Safety and Risk Frameworks
Work has also continued on the risk management framework that was completed in 2020. Some of the priorities that were of focus this past year included our financial sustainability, updating our asset management and finance policies, and ensuring surrender services are accessible to those who need them most. The framework was fully reviewed in 2022, which recognized the work we had done to mitigate risks and identified new priority areas to continually improve the management of risks.
A new Occupational Health and Safely manual was also introduced at EHS through monthly staff training to ensure the health and safety of our staff and animals.