Pet Adoption in Canada

Canada - Scott #2637 (2013)
Canada – Scott #2637 (2013)

In April 2013, Canada Post began an Adopt a Pet campaign using stamps conveying the message that Canadians, when looking for a pet, should first contact their local humane society or SPCA. A humane society is a group that aims to stop human or animal suffering due to cruelty or other reasons. In many countries, the term is used mostly for societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA). The first humane societies were founded in the United Kingdom. They included the Royal Humane Society in 1774, the Glasgow Humane Society in 1790, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in 1824. The first SPCA in the United States was the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), founded by Henry Bergh in New York City in 1866. The first SPCA in Canada was the Canadian SPCA founded in Montreal in 1869. The other societies developed on a regional basis and now 123 societies are represented at a federal level by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is the largest national animal welfare organization in Canada, representing humane societies, SPCAs, and animal rescue organizations. CFHS aims to speak with a strong national voice, promoting the welfare and humane treatment of animals, and working to end animal cruelty. Based in Ottawa, the CFHS is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1957. Some of its founders were Richard Taylor, president of the Ottawa Humane Society; Alne Cameron, former Veterinary Director General for Canada and president of the Ottawa Humane Society; Senator Frederic McGrand; and former lawyer Gord Gunn who had witnessed the suffering of horses in World War I.

Canada Post
Canada Post “Choose Adoption” campagn poster, 2013

Currently, the organization is led by Chief Executive Officer, Barbara Cartwright, who joined CFHS in July 2011. Recent prior CEOs include: Steve Carrol (2006-2011) and Robert Van Tongerloo (2000-2005).

The CFHS’s program work focuses on companion animals, livestock and legislation. The organization works to improve legislation to improve the prosecution of some animal abusers. The Federation works with the Canadian livestock sector to improve standards of care for animals on farm, as well as in transit and at slaughter. As a founding member of the National Companion Animal Coalition, the CFHS has been involved in setting the standard for microchip identification for pets, and has worked on such issues as dog bite prevention, puppy mills and municipal bylaws for dogs and cats. The CFHS is also a member of the Animal Welfare Committee of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.

The organization holds national animal welfare conferences. The 2014 conference included presentations by Jane Goodall, veterinarian Michelle Lem on a Community Veterinary Outreach Program in Ontario, and a discussion of trap-neuter-return to humanely reduce community cat populations. Animal testing was also discussed.

The CFHS does not receive any government funding. It relies on donations from the public, corporate sponsorship and some membership fees to fund its programs. In 2013, the organization’s members included 45 animal welfare organizations, humane societies and SPCAs operating across Canada.

It was the CFHS that submitted the “Choose adoption” idea to Canada Post as one of the commemorative stamp sets scheduled for 2013. The CFHS expressed on their website how proud and honored they are because the campaign was chosen out of more than 300 topics that were sent to Canada Post.

Cover for Canada Post's
Cover for Canada Post’s “Choose Adoption” stamp booklet, 2013.

Design Manager of the stamps, Danielle Trottier, stated that she wanted to ensure that this stamp design called attention to the plight of homeless pets in Canada and also the work of organizations under the CFHS. She wanted the stamp to also educate the public about shelter animals and promoting animal adoption. “Members of the Stamp Advisory Committee noticed how the design invited interaction — which is a great way to get people engaged in the topic. Detaching the stamps from the backing allows you to let the animal out of the cage or kennel — and hopefully send it to a good home.” The background sketches each animal’s dream of home, explained Trottier.

The animal models for the stamps were actual shelter animals and names and individual experiences are included in the stamp booklet and on the Official First Day Cover story.

Trottier added, “We thought it was really important for this stamp to show not just a dog, but Captain or Wrinkles — allowing collectors and mailers to have a more intimate, interactive experience with the pet.”

With the stamp issue in 2013, Canada Post felt there was a need to dispel the myth that shelter animals are poorly behaved animals, that their original owners couldn’t deal with them. On the contrary, most ended up homeless because their owner got them on impulse and weren’t aware of or prepared for the investment they would require in time and money. In some cases, the owner died and there was no one else to adopt the pet. Failing to spay or neuter pets can also bring unwanted litters.

Flyer from the Humane Society for Seattle / King County, Washington
Flyer from the Humane Society for Seattle / King County, Washington

Most shelter animals simply need a second chance. Benefits of adopting a shelter animal include the fact that they’ve been spayed or neutered, micro-chipped, vaccinated and had a full vet check-up. Their physical health and behavior has been tested to ensure they’re ready for a new home. Pet parents who adopt from a shelter can choose the kind of animal they want. They not only get a new best friend and a lifetime of love, but also may be saving a life.

According to Barbara Cartwright, CEO, of the CFHS, “Right now, there are thousands of animals in Canada in need of a home. The new Canada Post ‘Choose adoption’ stamp promotes the importance of adopting an animal from one of the many shelters across Canada. The reward of adoption occurs when the right animal comes into your life and becomes a part of the family.”

The stamp featured today, portraying a cat was issued in two formats — as part of a souvenir sheet of five designs using traditional gum and perforated 12½ as well as in a self-adhesive booklet of ten stamps with die-cut perforations of 13 x 13½ (Scott #2637). Both formats were printed by offset lithography. There were 500,000 copies of the booklet printed by Lane-Martin with the stamps having non-denominated “Permanent” (P) status. The designs portrayed are a small dog, a large dog, a black cat, a gray cat, and a parrot. These were created by Subplot Design Inc. using illustrations by Monika Melnychuk. The photography was by Raef Miles (cages) and Raina + Wilson (animals).

Flag of Canada, adopted February 21, 1965
Flag of Canada, adopted February 21, 1965
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