It takes a special person with a strong skin and warm heart to dedicate their life to such a cause as the care of animals. That description fits Cathy Fugler to a tee. Even though she’s only been with the Niagara Falls Humane Society (NFHS) for around 4 years, she comes across as a ‘lifer.’
The idea that every day you come in you do something meaningful is pretty cool. Not everybody gets to have a purpose every day and go home and say “Yep, I made a difference today.” It’s very, very satisfying.
The shelter is full of people like Cathy.
For instance, take Sharon who works as many hours as Cathy does but is a volunteer. She runs the Cat Adoption Centre in Niagara Square for Cathy. According to Cathy, when you say to Sharon that she could just get paid doing this her reply is “I do get paid. I get paid in satisfaction.”
Cathy confirms that Sharon is one of the most amazing people and finding that right person is crucial to the Cat Adoption Centre. This passion project of Cathy’s has seen over 900 cats adopted in just 3 years, a success Cathy attributes to the positive nature of their goal. An entirely volunteer-run set-up, it is an amazing achievement.
Having been around for over 75 years, Cathy is happy to declare that it is reasonably well-known in the Niagara Region that NFHS has a strict policy against euthanasia as a population control method. Dan and I, at Embrace Niagara, support this stance very strongly as it’s a personal belief. If more people supported shelters with this policy, we can help push all shelters to adopt this and the organizations will grow with incredible results.
Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter have played a key part in today’s operations for every business or organization and this includes Niagara Falls Humane Society. Using Facebook as a tool, they’ve managed to reconnect lost pets, supply fast updates on adopted animals, and have created a warm community discussion with animals as a central focus. Even though the shelter is well-established, they show they aren’t afraid to change with the times and adapt to advanced ways to reach the public. It shows that NFHS is paying attention and this bodes very well for their future.
It’s a way to celebrate. When we have adoptions, we immediately put them on our Facebook page.
Shelters can commonly be associated with negative experiences. A place where your senses are violated by the rough smell of bleach, urine and constant barking. A place where animals can be forgotten and ultimately end up on the dreaded table. A place of sadness. This does not apply to Niagara Falls Humane Society.
NFHS is a place that generates love and safety, inside and out. From the moment you walk in you are greeted by warm, caring staff members. It’s a place that families come just to play and visit with the animals.
The dogs only bark when someone enters their area but it’s just to get your attention so they can beg you with their big, beautiful eyes that they are the perfect new addition to your family.
Sitting in the cat room will plop you in the middle of a cat party where you’ll be loved, claimed and pulled into their world.
All of the animals are wonderful – dogs, cats and bunnies alike. A few special animals to call out are:
Dog Enrichment Volunteer Linda is crazy about this fella and says: Nike is the sweetest dog in the shelter!!! I just love spending time with him. He is so loveable you just want to cuddle with him. He is doing exceedingly well with his obedience lessons. He learns so quickly and just wants to please you. He enjoys a good run in the pen and I’m sure I’ve seen a smile on his face as he flies around enjoying the freedom. I’m surprised he hasn’t been snatched up long ago, with his handsome looks and his gentle nature. Shy he may be but he is coming out of his shell very nicely!!! Nike is good with children over 12. He must be the only pet in the home. He is housebroken. We are looking for a quiet home for Nike.
Linda has spent time with Nike and reports: Nike is a wonderful dog to spend time with. He has such a gentle nature, a little on the shy side but very loveable. He was heeling very nicely for me today and sat on command too. Nike is one good looking dude too, he has the most luxurious coat. I gave him a good brushing which he thoroughly enjoyed. Nike would be a lovely companion for someone who likes to take things slow and easy.
Deanna and Alisha add: We spent lots of time with Nike working on his obedience training. Nike was reluctant to do anything until he got out of the shelter. Once we got Nike outside he settled down taking to the clicker treats training very well. Nike sat, lied down and held stay position for 20 seconds even with distractions around him. Nike walked nice with a loose leash following us as we frequently changed directions. Nike got a nice bath today, was worried he’d be nervous of the hose but he was just fine. He just loved his bath and enjoyed a good run in the pen after.
Renee observes: Olympia is just awesome. She is now sitting on command and learning to work for her rewards. She is taught to get out of the kennel she must not pull, to get outside she sits and waits at the door for the release command ‘ok’ to be given. To play with toys and be given affection she sits and waits politely. All part of what the volunteers learn & teach the dogs themselves. Olympia spent time playing with Billy in the outside enclosure on Saturday September 1st, just another great attribute about this very loving girl! Olympia is a very active dog who likes toys. She knows the commands for sit, shake, down, etc. Olympia was originally rescued from a “kill” shelter in Quebec. She was adopted, and somehow came to the shelter as a stray. Sadly, no one has stepped forward to claim her. Olympia loves kids and has experience living with a baby. She loves cats and has been known to tease them. She also loves rough housing with other dogs. She can jump 4 feet high, so a six foot fence and fully fenced yard is required for her.
Deanna and Alisha observe: Olympia is very eager to please you. She listens well to all her commands. Olympia sits, lies down and can hold a stay position for 25 seconds. Olympia does great during her transitions in and out of the gates and doorways waiting patiently for her cue to go. Olympia is a petite, loving girl who’s working hard on heeling. She comes when called and today enjoyed a big swim in the pool. She has also spent time playing together with another dog here at the shelter outside in the pen. Olympia loves going for walks and has lots of playful energy.
Candyce would prefer an adult forever home. Breed experience is a must.
Linda recently worked with Candyce and observes: I’ve worked with Candyce a couple of times now and she is a joy to walk. She heels beautifully, also sits, sit stays, downs, down stays and comes instantly when called even loose in the pen!!! Candyce is a pretty girl, with a gorgeous coat. She also possesses a bubbly personality. Candyce would be a lovely companion to the special person who adopts her. She is a doll!!!!
Meagyn observes: Candyce is a sweet older girl. I was not able to take her out of her cage as she has a sore foot. I could tell she was so anxious to come out from behind her bars, so I stayed with her for a while in her cage so she could have some human interaction. She mostly just wanted to get out of the cage as she thought since I was in there with her it meant she was going for a walk. Poor girl. She is so cute and loving and is craving attention. She is hoarse from barking- not in an aggressive way, but in a “come over here and see me” type of way. As soon as I come up to her or open her cage she stops barking. She just really wants out of the shelter, and to find a special companion who can spend lots of time with her. I did observe her walking with another volunteer a couple weeks ago and she seemed to be walking well, was relaxed and happy to be outdoors. It is amazing how the energy of the dogs change once they are away from all the other dogs and spending time bonding with people. It must be frustrating to not be able to get out of the cage, so once they do, you can almost see them smile! I am sure Candyce would make such a great addition to a family who would enjoy taking her for walks as well as giving her one-on-one time snuggling on the couch.
A huge component of the shelter is their Lost & Found services. Their web page sees a lot of traffic and people try to reconnect with their lost pets. They have so many great reuniting stories! Cathy was thrilled to describe a story where a lady came into their adoption room and exclaimed “That’s my cat!” to the staff. Her cat responded immediately to her, chirping and rubbing against her. It took them over a year to find each other again; about 14 months as Cathy estimates. I want to emphasize that this kind of story could only be possible in a no-kill shelter.
It’s a long story to tell and I’ve only skimmed the surface. I invite you to visit the Niagara Falls Humane Society yourself to see what wonderful things they are doing here. You’ll leave with a smile on your face and thoughts of how one of these lovely animals could fit into your future.
This shelter is a beating heart in Niagara Falls and it’s not to be missed!
There are several ways!
Monetary donations are always welcome as they are a non-profit organization. They also welcome Canadian Tire money and Zehrs receipts.
Do you have a business? They have donation boxes and bubble gum machines they can place at your location to help raise funds and awareness.
Supplies are constantly in need (please check their website for a specific list). However, kitten food is in high demand and is needed frequently.
Volunteer. Their Dog Enrichment program desperately needs 10 volunteers right now. Whatever amount of time you have to donate, it still helps an animal.
Spread the word! “Like” them on Facebook so you can get into their community and help share their articles. Who knows, maybe you could even help someone reconnect with a lost pet.
Attend a fundraising function. Tomorrow (Tues, Nov 6th) they are having a Pasta Dinner fundraiser. The dinner will be held on from 4- 7 pm at Lundy’s Lane United Church. Tickets are $8 in advance or $9 at the door and are available at the Cat Adoption Centre or call Kathleen at 905-328-4407. Only 200 tickets are available. Menu includes: pasta, salad, bread, meatballs, sauce, and dessert. Pasta and meatballs prepared by Gabriele’s Custom Catering. Eat-in or take-out available. All proceeds go to caring for the animals at the NFHS.
The Niagara Falls Humane Society helps find loving homes for unwanted and mistreated animals, as well as trying its best to reunite lost pets with their rightful owners.
The NFHS provides a safe haven for pets in limbo, before they are placed in a new home. The Society tries to alleviate the suffering of all animals and to eliminate euthanasia as a method of population control for pets. At the NFHS, no healthy adoptable animal will ever be euthanised.
Cathy Fugler is the Communications Director at NFHS.
Location: 6025 Chippawa Parkway, Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 6X8
- Pasta Dinner fundraiser on November 6th
- Santa Pictures on December 8th & 9th
- Watch for dates on their Christmas Raffle (via the NFHS Website)
Photos of Nike and Olympia were taken by Virginia Anne.