Animal associations

Humane Society inaugurates a “community animal center”

When the Humane Society London and Middlesex was looking for help building a new home, its executive director, Steve Ryall, saw that Old Oak Properties had a ‘barking leader’ on their website.

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When the Humane Society London and Middlesex was looking for help building a new home, its executive director, Steve Ryall, saw that Old Oak Properties had a ‘barking leader’ on their website.

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It would be Captain, the best friend of Robert Bierbaum, responsible for the manufacturer’s brand.

Ryall knew then that he had found the right person.

“I knew we were calling the right people and Old Oak was immediately interested, they were very supportive,” he said. “Old Oak has been very generous.”

Steve Ryall, executive director of the Humane Society of London and Middlesex, announces details of the society's new home during a groundbreaking ceremony.  Photograph taken Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press)
Steve Ryall, executive director of the Humane Society of London and Middlesex, announces details of the society’s new home during a groundbreaking ceremony. Photograph taken Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press)

The humane society broke ground on Tuesday for its new $21 million home which will be called the Old Oak Animal Campus at 1414 Dundas St. When the facility opens in 2023, it will comprise a 3,400 square meter building on 4.4 hectares that will redefine animal care, said Ryall.

He said Old Oak and its commitment to animal welfare is a big reason for that.

“It will be great for the city and for its animals,” Ryall said.

The Humane Society campus will offer camps for young people to spend time with animals, school tours, a pet kennel, training programs and a cat-themed cafe.

“To my knowledge, there is no other facility like this. We call it an animal community center,” Ryall said.

The Humane Society has also launched a $10 million fundraising program — new home, new hope — to raise money for the center, he said.

“We have a long-standing relationship with human society. All our buildings accept pets. When Human Society has approached us, we are thrilled to work with them,” said Robert Bierbaum.

“Animals are furry friends. They are part of the family.

Old Oak sold the land to the Humane Society and then donated $300,000 for the center’s naming rights, Bierbaum said.

“I’m very excited to see what the animal campus becomes,” he said.

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New HSLM house. A new hope.

Old Oak Animal Campus has been carefully designed to meet the needs of our organization and our community. The upgraded facility will allow us to achieve new levels of success in housing animals, educating community members, and increasing our animal welfare advocacy efforts. Learn more: http://www.hslm.ca/newhomenewhope

Posted by Humane Society London & Middlesex on Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Old Oak Animal Campus will be a big change from the humane society’s current home of less than 930 square meters at its Clarke Road address.

The new office will also have its own veterinary clinic. Staff now take the animals to several clinics for treatment. The on-site clinic will also provide care at a reduced cost, as the Humane Society believes some animals are put up for adoption due to the cost of caring for them, Ryall said.

“We saw animals abandoned because people couldn’t pay their vet bills,” he said. “We will offer low cost and large space (for animals.)”

The Humane Society cares for 215-225 animals, 75% of which are cats, with dogs, rabbits, mice, rats, birds and guinea pigs making up a large portion of the remainder.

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Bierbaum grew up with a love of animals on a hobby farm outside of town with “lots of dogs,” as well as barn cats and next to a wooded area populated by wild animals.

“We are very excited about this. We think it will work well with the redevelopment of the area,” Bierbaum said.

The Humane Society office will be located on part of what was the former grounds of the London Psychiatric Hospital. On the same 72-hectare site, Old Oak is planning a massive residential redevelopment called Legacy Village that could include seven residential and commercial towers and more than 120 homes.

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