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Nelson needs a home!

Nelson is a friendly tabby who would do best in a one-cat home

UPDATE: Nelson has been adopted!  Thanks to everyone who spread the word about Nelson’s situation.


Nelson is looking for a forever home!

This sweet little tabby boy is typical of the animals that VHS helps.  He was found in a back yard, starving, and his ears were full of mites.  Although he’s estimated to be around 5 years old, he wasn’t neutered!  No wonder he kept getting into trouble with the neighborhood cats.

He’s now being fostered and doing very well. Thanks to VHS supporters, he’s neutered, vaccinated and has been treated for his ear mites. He’s had an FIV test which, thankfully, was negative. He’s litter-trained, playful and loves to give head butts! He likes having his head scratched, and doesn’t mind dogs.

Can you give him a home?  Please email if Nelson is the cat for you.




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100 years of cruelty is nothing to celebrate

In a few weeks time, on July 6, animals will once again be suffering at the hands of the Calgary Stampede.  And once again, we will be calling on all civilized, compassionate Canadians to oppose this spectacle of animal abuse.

Some people wonder why the Vancouver Humane Society, a small animal charity on the West Coast, picks on the Calgary Stampede, a so-called national icon and self-described “greatest outdoor show on earth.”

The simple answer is this:  The Stampede subjects animals to fear, pain and stress for the sake of entertainment and that’s immoral.

To be clear, VHS only objects to the Stampede rodeo.  We have no issue with the other activities that make up the bulk of the Stampede.  If people want to dress up as cowboys and party, that’s fine with us. We just want to stop animals from suffering.

The Stampede will say that rodeo animals don’t suffer.  Can they really believe that a three-month-old calf doesn’t feel fear when it is goaded out of a chute and chased into the arena? Can they really believe that the calf doesn’t feel pain when, at 27 miles per hour, it is roped to a jarring halt, then picked up and thrown to the ground?  Imagine this being done to your dog.

Some people who defend rodeo say, well, the pain is only inflicted for a short time, so what’s the big deal.  Okay, imagine that a reality television program featured kittens or puppies receiving a mild electric shock for just a few seconds.  No one would stand for it.  There would be a public outcry.  Why? Because the idea of subjecting animals to abuse for the sake of entertainment would be considered barbaric, unconscionable and unacceptable. Yet we accept it in rodeo, where crowds of people actually applaud as they watch animals experience pain.

Oh, but rodeo is different.  It’s about tradition and agricultural heritage and what happens on the ranch.  Really?  The truth is that real working cowboys never rode bulls, wrestled steers or raced chuckwagons.  And the calf-roping event is a cruel travesty of the range practice.  “That’s not the way it’s done on the ranch. On the ranch it’s done quietly and calmly, not like at the rodeo,” says renowned animal behaviourist, Temple Grandin.

Even if rodeo events were a genuine part of Canadian heritage, would that justify cruelty to animals?  In London, one of the last bear-baiting pits, situated a few paces from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, was closed down in 1642.  While the Globe has been rebuilt, nothing remains of the bear pit.  There are some parts of our heritage we should retain and be proud of and there are others we should consign to the dustbin of history.  That’s where traditions of animal cruelty belong.

The Stampede is marking its 100th anniversary.  A century of unnecessary animal suffering.  If you believe in a future without such suffering, please speak out against rodeo.  If you believe in a civilized compassionate Canada, please join our campaign.  We’re going to take a stand against animal cruelty at the Calgary Stampede.  Please stand with us.

Watch this space.

More info on the Calgary Stampede rodeo.








Clean, clipped and happy!

Chopper is one happy, good-looking dog after some help from a very caring person

(Watch Global TV’s story on Chopper here.)


It’s not something that VHS would normally do, but when we were approached by a Good Samaritan asking us to help out with a dog who needed grooming, we made an exception.

The dog in question is Chopper, who belongs to Bill, a man down on his luck and without the resources to pay for a long overdue grooming for Chopper. Bill can be seen most days sitting on the sidewalk in front of Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, with a cupful of loose change from a few generous passersby. He and Chopper are a popular fixture at the station, known to local businesses and watched over by friendly police.

Bill and Chopper

The caring person who contacted VHS had engaged Bill in conversation and, with his agreement, set in motion a plan that eventually involved the Aussie Pet Mobile grooming service, the Vancouver Police Department, Global Television and VHS. In addition to her co-ordinating efforts, she also also brought Bill food (including his favourite: mashed potatoes). VHS agreed to cover the cost of the grooming. On May 8, everything came together and Global TV’s Mike McCardell covered Chopper’s big day. After nearly two hours of grooming, Chopper emerged a new dog, looking and obviously feeling great. Bill was over the moon to see his pal clean, clipped and happy.

VHS usually restricts funding help to animals in emergency medical need, but we were so impressed that one individual (who wishes to remain anonymous) would take the time to befriend and help someone like Bill and his best friend Chopper, that we decided we had to help.
As it turns out, the generous people at Aussie Pet Mobile have decided to make a substantial donation to VHS, so everyone has come out ahead!

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A cautionary tale

Miley was very ill with parvovirus

Miley, a ten-week-old puppy, was sold to a family at the Abbotsford Flea Market by a breeder who had lied about her health. The family was told Miley had been vaccinated and was in perfect condition, but when the family took her home she fell gravely ill only a few days later.

Miley was rushed to the vet, where she was diagnosed with parvovirus, a sickness that can be fatal to puppies. The family did not have the means to pay for the costly treatment so they called VHS for help. We are happy to report that Miley sailed through her treatment without a problem and is now in perfect health. She is now a happy and active little puppy with a loving forever home.


VHS does its best to help sick and injured animals though our McVitie Fund, which is used to help with emergency veterinary care, but the demand for help always exceeds our resources. (Donations to the McVitie Fund are currently being doubled in value, thanks to a challenge grant.)

While Miley’s story had a happy ending, it illustrates the dangers of buying dogs, especially when there are homeless dogs languishing in shelters. For information on our ‘Adopt, don’t buy’ campaign click here.

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VHS responds to Tim Hortons announcement on animal welfare

VHS issued the following news release in response to Tim Hortons’ announcement of an animal welfare initiative:

May 4, 2012

Tim Hortons responds to customer demands for more humane eggs and pork

Under mounting pressure from animal welfare organizations and consumers, Tim Hortons announced today it will call on its pork suppliers to eliminate the gestation confinement breeding sows and that it plans to purchase at least 10 per cent of its eggs from enriched caging systems by the end of 2013.

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) still feels Tim Hortons’ initiative falls short of making necessary improvements to animal welfare, particularly in regards to egg-laying hens. Through VHSs online petition* on Change.Org, more than 30,000 people have urged Tim Hortons to stop the use of cages and crates for hens and sows.

VHS is pleased that Tim Hortons is sending a strong message to the pork industry that change is needed to get animals out of tiny crates,” said Leanne McConnachie, Director of the Vancouver Humane Societys Farm Animal Programs. “Like many consumers nationwide, we are disappointed that the company still refuses to use any cage-free eggs though.”

Approximately 26 million hens produce Canada’s egg supply, and Tim Hortons 10 per cent commitment will only affect about 35,000 hens – the equivalent size of the average battery cage barn. In B.C. alone, more than 300,000 hens are raised in cage-free systems such as free-run, free-range and organic free-range.  Most of Tim Hortons’ competitors have opted to purchase eggs from farms using cage-free systems.

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Please sign petition before Tim Hortons AGM

Conventional battery hens

UPDATE:  Tim Hortons has announced an animal welfare initiative. Details here.  Stay tuned for VHS reaction.

On May 10th, Tim Hortons will hold its annual general meeting in Toronto. A shareholder resolution will be proposed asking Tim Hortons to stop buying eggs and pork from hens and pigs confined in cramped metal cages.

Add YOUR voice to the discussion. Sign our petition here and TELL TIM HORTONS TO STOP SUPPORTING FARM ANIMAL CRUELTY. We have collected more than 23,000 signatures so far – AT LEAST 10,000 is even better.

Please sign and share today. We have only A FEW DAYS LEFT!

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Canada’s factory farms exposed

VHS’s contribution to the report concerns Canada’s supply management system and cruelty to caged hens like these ones on an Ontario battery farm.

Report is a must read

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has released some alarming findings about the impacts of Canada’s animal agriculture practices.

What’s On Your Plate? The Hidden Costs of Industrial Animal Agriculture exposes the destructive impacts of intensive livestock operations on our health, the environment, animal welfare and rural Canada.

The report also exposes the real costs of our food, including tax-funded subsidies to agriculture, and the costs borne by our health care system for public safety and food borne illnesses. Our “cheap” food isn’t so cheap after all!

VHS co-wrote a section on supply management and Canada’s egg industry (pages 101-105). Read the report here and take action to help address the issue.

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City Critters – a great new book on urban animals

Don’t miss official launch on April 25

Almost every day there are news reports about wild animals in urban areas.  There seems to be an endless stream of stories about coyotes, bears, raccoons and other animals interacting (sometimes clashing) with humans, as we encroach on their habitats. While some animals adapt well to urban life, our co-habitation with them can still be difficult.  That’s why it’s vital that we learn about these animals and understand why we are increasingly sharing the same space.   It’s also why VHS is pleased to recommend a timely new book that can help us do just that.

City Critters, by Vancouver author Nicholas Read, provides a welcome and comprehensive introduction to the incredible range of animals North Americans can find, sometimes literally, on their doorsteps.

Described by one reviewer as “meticulous and rich with fascinating anecdotes about various human/wildlife encounters”, City Critters is ostensibly aimed at younger readers but animal lovers of any age will appreciate it.

The book is being launched alongside several other books for young readers on April 25 at 7p.m. at Kidsbooks, 3083 West Broadway, Vancouver.  All proceeds from the sale of City Critters will go to animal charities, including the Vancouver Humane Society.



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Ask Mayor Nenshi to speak up for compassion

Compassionate Canadians must write to Calgary’s mayor.  Here’s why:

It’s time to end cruel calf-roping at the Calgary Stampede and there’s one man who could make it happen:  Naheed Nenshi, the mayor of Calgary.

Since his election in 2010, Mayor Nenshi has done much to enhance Calgary’s image as a progressive city with a heart.  But the city’s image remains tarnished by the cruelty inflicted on animals during the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo.  And calf-roping is perhaps the cruellest rodeo event of all.

Three-month old calves are goaded out of the chute at full speed (up to 27 miles per hour). The terrified animal is then chased by a mounted rider who ropes the calf to a sudden, bone-jarring halt, picks him up and slams him to the ground. The event is timed and the rider who does it fastest wins.

The time pressure of the event and the prize money at stake can lead to poor roping, harsh handling and mistakes by riders – all of which put the calf at risk of injury. But it is not just the risk of injury that is the problem with calf-roping. It’s the fear.

All cattle are “prey” animals and research has shown they are particularly sensitive to fear. Dr. Temple Grandin, the distinguished animal behaviourist, has written that fear is “so bad” for animals it can be worse than pain.

There can be no doubt that a three-month-old calf, goaded and chased into an arena with a shouting crowd is suffering even before the rope pulls him off his feet.  How can tormenting an animal in this way be acceptable as entertainment?  Treating a dog this way would result in cruelty charges.

Mayor Nenshi, as a member of the Stampede’s board of directors, could be a voice for compassion by urging the board to stop the unconscionable cruelty of calf-roping.  By taking this step, the Stampede could begin evolving into an acceptable form of entertainment – one that doesn’t rely on the abuse of animals.

Please tell Mayor Nenshi to speak up for the innocent calves who suffer for the sake of human amusement by emailing him this letter.

More information on the Calgary Stampede rodeo here.





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Big Ag and Calgary Stampede target school kids

Rosy image of factory farming promoted

Conventional egg farm

The corporate power of Big Agriculture and the Calgary Stampede is being used to paint a rosy picture of factory farming to Calgary schoolchildren – with no dissenting voices allowed.

The Stampede’s ‘Aggie Days’ (April 21-22) is an annual event “celebrating” agriculture in Alberta – as long as it’s conventional, intensive agriculture.  Up to  30,000 local schoolchildren visit the promotion each year.

Paul Hughes, a local food activist who promotes small-scale urban agriculture, has been denied a booth at the event for the past four years. Hughes says that his booth would focus on how to grow food in an urban environment, providing information on preparing plots, choosing plants and starting school gardens.   Yet despite such innocuous activities and a pledge not to engage in any political activity, Hughes was again denied a booth.

Other exhibitors, like Alberta Chicken Producers and Alberta Egg Producers, will have booths at the event.  But Hughes, who is president of the Calgary Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK), is not welcome.  CLUCK is opposed to factory farming, including battery-cage egg operations. Perhaps the big conventional chicken operations don’t want schoolchildren to hear that hens are happier when they’re not crammed six to a cage.

While VHS has concerns about unregulated urban chickens, CLUCK’s proposals are about responsible urban husbandry that’s subject to regulation that will protect animal welfare.  It’s hard not to admire CLUCK’s fight for a traditional form of small-scale agriculture that respects animals and the environment.  It’s just one more small voice trying to stand up to the overwhelming power of corporate agriculture.

And it’s that corporate power that is being used to silence any voice that questions factory farming.  Meanwhile, Aggie Days will ensure that schoolchildren see a one-sided view of agriculture that suits Big Ag and the Calgary Stampede.