I had a chance to speak with Kyle Jahns at the Winnipeg Humane Society. He talked to me about animal adoption and what someone should consider before bringing home a furry friend. I certainly wasn’t going to turn down the chance to play with some puppies and kittens.
CD: Let’s start things off light. Dog or Cat person?
KJ: I can’t pick, I really can’t. But I think there is a divide we find between a lot of our supporters. They can be cat or dog people, but having a pet is a very personal preference and for a lot of people that preference is formed earlier in their life depending on what animals they had.
CD: Do you have any pets yourself?
KJ: I have a cat, yes. I adopted him from the WHS actually.
CD: What’s your favourite thing about your animal?
KJ: How different and timid he is. He’s a 2-year-old cat and he’s a beast. A big guy. I think he has a little bit of Maine Coon in him. But when he meows, if you are not looking at him you could easily mistake him for a kitten. There are definitely kittens here right now with bigger meows than him.
CD: When do you think is a good time in life to adopt and animal.
KJ: It’s a big commitment depending on if you are getting a dog or cat. You need to consider the age of the animal as well. It can be a 10 to 20-year commitment, so you have to make sure you’re in a position to handle that. You’re bringing home another member of the family, so you want to make sure you’re in a steady place. If maybe you don’t have a hug amount of time, then that’s when you would start looking at a cat. The cat won’t need as much activity, where a dog will require a lot. On top of that, a dog needs obedience training and that can require a lot of time and patience.
CD: What are some of costs that people don’t think about when they want to adopt?
KJ: It’s not necessarily a cheap thing. You have to ask yourself questions. Am I able to afford the vet bills? If there was an emergency, would I be able to financially support that animal? Do I have enough money to buy my pet food every month, the care, the toys? It’s an ongoing financial contribution.
CD: What is the screening process like for adopting from WHS?
KJ: I wouldn’t say its strict, but we want to learn about you before you adopt. It’s our responsibility to make sure the animals go to homes where they will be best cared for. An important question we always ask is if there are any animals currently living in the household. If there are, we want the animals to meet to make sure they get along. The last thing we want is for an animal to have to come back to us.
CD: I’ve never thought about an older animal being adopted quite the same way as a young one. Is it common that someone will adopt an older animal?
KJ: Senior pets are great because you know exactly what personality you’re getting. I know a lot of people want a puppy or a kitten because they are cute, but it’s a bigger responsibility and that young animal is still developing. You really don’t know what you might be getting. With a senior animal, what you see is what you get and it can be a really beautiful thing when someone adopts them. We find that senior pets can be really grateful and appreciate the adoption so much more, especially if they were with their owner for a long time. They are really just looking for a place to go. Unfortunately, they are the animals that do take a little longer for us to find homes for.
CD: So I looked into the 1001 Donations telethon that I will get to participate in this year. I’m super excited about that and I was wondering where the funding for the WHS comes from?
KJ: Donations. A huge chunk are donations. Over 50% of the money that we get comes from gracious donors. Out organization wouldn’t be possible without them. Absolutely not. We also raise money through fundraising events like the 1001 Donations telethon, the Paws in Motion walk and the Bow Wow Ball. Of course, We also rely heavily on our monthly donors. It’s money that we know will be coming in on a constant basis and it gives us an idea of what we can do. We even get kids who come in who are 8 or 9 years old that want to donate. Instead of receiving presents for their birthdays, they collect donations and bring them in. It’s really sweet because our donor base is anywhere from 9 to 99 so that’s a wonderful thing.
CD: What part do volunteers play for the WHS?
KJ: We have 700 volunteers here at any given time and that’s huge because, just like the donors, this place couldn’t operate without them. We also do have staff and administration as well that look after the adoptions, the clinic, and animal protection. But it’s our volunteers who are walking the dogs, spending time with the cats to socialize them, and help us with our events. They’re just as important as any staff member. They support our cause and we are certainly grateful for them.
CD: What is the weirdest experience you’ve dealt with in terms of animals coming in?
KJ: It’s funny you mention that, we had a pig come in today. A pot belly pig. It arrived at our doorstep this morning and obviously we don’t adopt that animal out, but we make sure to find that pig, or any animal we can’t adopt out, a nice home. We don’t really know what will make its way in. Keeps it exciting. It’s best that it comes here though, because we have the resources to make sure that animal will be okay.