A ray of hope

Hot Off the Collar | Volume 9

We all get overwhelmed. The demands of work, family, health and world events can be relentless. It can weaken our resolve and make us feel vulnerable or weary.
That’s exactly how I was feeling as I read and watched story after story about the tragedy in Nova Scotia. As a former journalist, I’ve never given in to the impulse to simply “shut off” the news but yesterday and today I’ve come very close. We’re all reeling from a virus that has killed hundreds of thousands around the globe. For five weeks, the entire world has been on a virtual lockdown. Our routines have been disrupted and our personal connections have been severely restricted or in some cases, eliminated. Now, in the midst of all of that, we face an enormous national heartbreak. In times like these we would normally reach out to friends or find comfort in compassionate gatherings or vigils.
None of that is currently available and so, we cry. We weep for the staggering, unimaginable loss and we strive to understand an incomprehensible act; and we do it on our own.
No wonder we feel overwhelmed.

I want to find some magic pill that will suddenly make the world seem normal again. I want to reach into my experience and my past to come up with the one thing that will stem the incessant tide of sadness. Unfortunately I can’t. What I can offer you is perhaps, a bit of hope.
As animal welfare organization, we are often faced with days and sometimes weeks of difficult, sad and disturbing situations; situations that most of the public will never witness. Over the last 12 months, I’ve watched our team of 26 animal care experts as they navigated these waters. This is a tight knit group that is constantly watching out for each other. They find light in the darkness using humour, compassion and an unyielding desire to save every animal that crosses their path. Our veterinarian Dr. Laurie Gaines reminded me of this just yesterday.

On Sunday, a pregnant cat that was living in a foster home started the birthing process but something was clearly wrong. The foster parent contacted us and we called Dr. Gaines. She quickly pulled together a team, the cat was brought in and they performed an emergency C-section. C-sections are pretty routine for human births but much more uncommon for cats. By the time most cat owners realize a C-section is warranted, it’s already too late. Laurie and her group did a fantastic job on Sunday afternoon and despite the odds being stacked against them, one kitten was saved.

When I received the photo of this little fighter yesterday, the floodgates opened. Why? Probably a little bit of each thing I mentioned at the beginning, but also because amidst the loss, the uncertainty and the heartbreak, we found a ray of hope in the commitment of our team and in the will of one, tiny kitten to survive. He has an uphill climb and many barriers to overcome but he has each of us pulling for him and hopefully that’s enough. 

Sunday’s emergency surgery reminded me that our instinct to come together in times of need doesn’t disappear because of a virus or a tragedy. We see it in our health care workers, in our first responders and in hearts of those who have suffered an immeasurable loss. Physical restrictions will never stop the best of this country from shining through despite all the obstacles.

The Kingston Humane Society sends its love and condolences to everyone in Nova Scotia and indeed to everyone in Canada. This is a national loss and what will ultimately allow us to heal will be our instinct to rally together as one national community and perhaps, finding a little ray of hope amidst the chaos.

– Gord Hunter, Executive Director

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Contactless adoptions will begin on May 6th for limited number of animals

Kingston, ON – May 1, 2020
Beginning on Wednesday May 6th, the Kingston Humane Society (KHS) will resume adoptions of animals to suitable members of the public. The number of animals available will initially be limited and significant safety protocols will be employed to avoid any contact or direct interaction with potential adopters.

Five weeks ago, the KHS suspended all adoptions in an effort to significantly reduce the potential of COVID-19
transmission within the community or to the KHS staff. In that time, more than 100 foster volunteers have stepped up to care for animals that would normally have been housed in kennels and waiting for adoption.

“Our foster volunteers have been incredible,” said Gord Hunter, Executive Director, “but we’re starting to see
the expected spring influx of animals and we need to be sure we have capacity within the shelter once things
begin to open up again and once the foster families begin returning animals to us.”

The capacity of the current building is limited to 75 cats and 44 dogs. The KHS currently has 112 animals in
care; the majority in foster homes. In May of 2019, the Kingston Humane Society took in just under 200
animals. After this year’s mild winter, Animal Programs Manager Christie Haaima expects numbers to rise significantly, potentially putting the shelter well over capacity.

“Each year, we see a large influx of animals heading into the summer months, predominantly stray cats and
orphaned kittens,” said Haaima. “We can’t allow Covid-19 to prevent us from saving the lives of nearly 2,000 pets this year. We need to be prepared by continuing adoptions and expanding our foster program.”

Pre-adoption counselling and meet and greets will be done virtually utilizing available electronic meeting platforms. The successful adopters will then come to the shelter to pick up the animal in a no-touch environment. Adoption payments will be accepted by debit or credit only using no-touch or minimal contact protocols. All KHS staff employees will wear full PPE and adopters will be asked to wear gloves and masks when picking up their new family member.

“This is new to all of us and we expect to experience small glitches that we’ll address and correct on the fly,” said Hunter. “Our goal is to find forever homes for as many animals in our care as possible and to remain within our somewhat limited capacity, keeping the strain on staff and animals to a minimum.”

Beginning Wednesday May 6th, the public can find animals available for adoption on our website at www.kingstonhumanesociety.ca . Online applications will be processed as received and suitable adopters will be contacted for virtual meet and greets.


The Kingston Humane Society is committed to advocating for and improving the lives of animals within our community. Founded in 1884, the KHS continues to provide shelter and care for homeless animals in Kingston and surrounding communities. We promote responsible pet ownership and compassion and respect for all animals. In addition, we work in and with our community to provide leadership in the humane treatment of all animals, to address the causes of animal suffering, to encourage people to take responsibility for their animal companions and to provide care for animals who are neglected, abused, exploited, stray or homeless.

Gord Hunter, Executive Director KHS, 613-546-1291 ext 105

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