A community that understands

Hot Off the Collar | Volume 19
 

With vaccination rates on the rise and the world returning to something a bit more familiar if not quite normal, it seems like a good time to reflect on how our community has accompanied us on a once-in-a-century journey.

Since March of 2020:

  • We’ve had to cancel two Bowl for the Animals, two Unleash the Treats one Big Paws and three open houses.
  • From November to May, we split our animal care team into two cohorts and we extended shifts from 8 to 12 hours.
  • We haven’t had volunteers – a critical component of any not-for-profit – for 17 months.
  • Our adoptions are now completed using ZOOM for cats/small mammals and outdoor-only, weather-dependent meet and greets in our off leash area for dogs.
  • Our foster program has increased by 300% without a significant increase to funding.
  • Our board hasn’t met in person for 17 months.
  • We held our second virtual AGM in June.

Dozens of other, smaller changes have amplified the existing levels of anxiety and stress inherent in animal welfare. Yet, through it all this team of caring and committed souls has been determined to carry out the mandate of advocating for and improving the lives of animals in the Kingston area.

When you include the outpouring of community support we’ve received throughout this time, you begin to understand how we’ve managed to weather the COVID storm despite the bumps and bruises listed above. 

Our online auction is a perfect example of the combined levels of support. In the past, our online auctions have succeeded thanks largely to gift certificates and donations from hundreds of merchants in the Kingston area; restaurants, hair care and personal services made up a large portion of those donations. In the face of COVID, we did not feel it was appropriate to ask owners who had already sacrificed so much, to give up opportunities to recover their losses. Instead we focused on experiences or unique items. Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair, Rob Baker and Johnny Fay of The Tragically Hip jumped at the chance to help. They signed a new guitar generously donated by Long and McQuade and they also contributed a signed drumhead that Johnny Fay had used on tour. When I picked up the items from Paul, I gave him a card of thanks signed by our whole staff and he said something that really hit home. “Hey Gord, make sure you thank everybody over at the Humane Society. You guys do great work and we really appreciate it.” Paul had taken the guitar, made sure it was signed, then added in a signed drumhead and yet he was thanking me, thanking us? I had a lump in my throat that took a moment to settle before I said, “I sure will Paul and thanks again.”

As I walked back to the KHS van, it occurred to me that Paul was expressing the community’s appreciation for the Humane Society’s dedication. That concept can get lost amidst day-to-day operations and the added burdens of COVID and I truly appreciated Paul’s reminder.

Then, with his words still echoing in my head, I got into the KHS van, turned the key in the ignition and the music on the radio stopped me cold.

“First thing we’d climb a tree
And maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently
And listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday
Cast in a golden light
No dress rehearsal
This is our life”
It was “Ahead by a Century”, the last song The Tragically Hip played on August 20, 2016; a day when the whole country came together as a single community.

 I sat for a moment with goosebumps rising on my arms and that lump returning to my throat.
Maybe it was just coincidence. 

Maybe it was because I had changed the station earlier in the day to listen to what the KHS staff refers to as, “Dad rock.”

It certainly could have been something that simple.
But maybe, just maybe, it was one more, “thank you” from the only member of the Hip that wasn’t able to sign the guitar.

Whatever it was and wherever it comes from, we truly appreciate the continued support of our community. We couldn’t do it without you.

– Gord Hunter, Executive Director

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