GOODWILL: Oakville Milton Humane Society

Animal shelters are the first place to look when you are thinking of adding a pet to your family. At the Oakville and Milton Humane Society you will save a life. It's that simple. In turn you will receive a healthy dog or cat with boundless love and gratitude that has been vaccinated, spayed or neutered and micro-chipped.

Since its inception in 1936, the Oakville and Milton Humane Society (OMHS) has been a safe haven for lost and abandoned animals. Now celebrating 80 years of caring, this small shelter with a big heart looks to the near future for a new and bigger location to meet its growing demands.

Originally located on Morrison Road in Oakville, it was in 1951 they moved to 455 Cornwall Road. Evidenced by the four portables surrounding the main building, they have long since outgrown this location. In talking with Executive Director Kim Millan, she spoke from a small room surrounded by caged animals and snakes.

“We are so crowded…there is simply no more room. We need a bigger building to shelter more animals and provide additional programs and services.”

One hundred per cent donor funded, much of the shelter's development and success is due to evolving programs and education.

“The board and staff collectively looked at our mission and came up with a mandate:  Protect, Care, Educate,” says Millan. “For years now a primary focus has been on educating the community about pet ownership. Children especially need to learn from a young age how to respect and treat pets. We have had great success with our after school Kindness Club and Summer Camp programs.”

To the operators of shelters, the growing number of sick or aged animals arriving at their door is a disturbing sign of the economic times. Surrendering ill or aging pets is becoming a serious problem. In part, this problem could be due to the plethora of baby boomers coming to an age where downsizing into condos or apartments is the norm. Equally problematic, Millan explains, is the owners' reluctance to care for a sick pet or inability to pay medical costs.

“It is a real concern of mine that animals are being handed over because they require special medical needs. We can teach owners how easy it is to pop a pill or give an injection.”

With no government assistance, it's the donors, sponsors and volunteers who make this shelter possible. One such person is Tracy Powell, her well-known Oakville residence dubbed Chelster Hall, an homage to the names of family pets. Though a philanthropist for many causes, it is the Humane Society for which her heartstrings pull. “Twenty years ago I took in my first rescue. I become very emotional when I think about their unconditional love, how much they give and how much good working dogs do for the community. It is our duty to take care of them.”

When the shelter's roof became so damaged animals were being rained on, it was Tracy and husband Hugo who came to the rescue. “They literally put a roof over our head,” says Millan. “The Powell's contribution is ongoing and currently Tracy is assisting with our upcoming gala event, all of which helps bring the shelter back into the limelight.”

Catsino Royale is the extravaganza event planned to celebrate the shelter's 80th anniversary, while at the same time an opportunity to help kick-start the future of the OMHS. “In order to be self-sustaining we need to offer more services and programs to the community and for that to happen we need more land and a bigger building.”

Presented by Lexus of Oakville, Catsino Royale will be held at the Oakville Conference Centre on May 12 from 6 to 11:30 pm. As the name suggests the evening includes casino games and a cocktail party followed by fine dining with luxury raffles and exclusive prizes.  The evening's entertainment will be provided by Canada's own country star Beverley Mahood.

The Oakville and Milton Humane Society need you to help in this twofold celebration.   

“This event is about food, fun, games and live music but it is also an investment into our future to help those that cannot speak for themselves.”

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