Humane Society expands into Scarborough

It may be raining cats and dogs in one north Toronto neighbourhood, but the downpour could soon spread across the city.

On April 14, the Toronto Humane Society held the grand opening of its first-ever satellite location in a storefront location on Victoria Park Avenue in North York. The shelter will house about 40 cats and a variety of small animals. But the possible implications of its success are more important than its capacity.

The society’s senior communicator, Lee Oliver, called it as a testing ground for further expansion.

What we’re hoping to do is be able to actually determine if maybe we could put a smaller location somewhere else,” he said. “Maybe a smaller storefront, or a large one depending on what the numbers show us.

“This is the first time in our 121-year history that we’ve had two locations (at one time), so it’s all kind of new to us and we’re still working it out.”

THS was founded more than a century ago, but for the last few years its main shelter at 11 River St. has been bursting at the seams. Volunteer Christie Tait believes that the shelter was especially burdened with feline traffic this past year.

“There’s a season for (kitten adoptions), and I can tell you that the kitten season went a lot longer this year and there were a lot more kittens,” she said. “It didn’t seem to taper when it was supposed to. Usually the volunteers go from April to October, but they had them through the winter.”

The main shelter holds about 1,000 animals and sees nearly 7,000 adoptions per year. By comparison, the new location holds less than 100 animals, but could likely process between 1,000 and 2,000 adoptions in its first year.

Oliver believes that convenience can explain the expected difference in adoption traffic between the two locations

“About a third of our adoptions come from the north and east side of the city,” he said. “We did a bit of research where we discovered that more people from that part of town would adopt if it wasn’t so difficult to get down here (to the main shelter).”

THS’s adoption goals may seem overly ambitious, but Oliver thinks their optimism is justifiable. By the time they officially opened, the new location had already handled more than three dozen adoptions.

“At the main shelter on River Street, a good weekend would be 50 cats (adopted out),” he said. “Without any publicity at all, to have essentially 40 animals adopted (before the grand opening), that’s pretty good.

“We suspect that now that people know we’re out there, the numbers will rise exponentially.”

The new Toronto Humane Society shelter can be found in the Van Horne Plaza at 2802 Victoria Park Ave. Both of the THS’s locations are now open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.