From the worst comes the best

Hot Off the Collar | Volume 7

Mid-November is a difficult time in animal welfare. The shelters – ours included – are full. Expenses are being carefully monitored as the financial year-end looms. And perhaps most importantly, shelter employees are exhausted by months of working in an environment that is perpetually over-capacity and under-resourced.

That was the atmosphere here, when we were notified that seven dogs would be arriving as a result of an investigation. The agent warned us ahead of time that they had been living in a single room with little to no exercise and an unpredictable food source. It also appeared that when they did get fed, food was just thrown on the floor for them to fight over. In a situation like that, the dominant dogs will eat and the submissive dogs will starve.

Despite the advanced notice of what to expect, we could not have been prepared for what we saw. One of the dogs was so emaciated that I couldn’t really process what I was seeing. It was horrific. No medicine or surgery could have possibly saved this poor creature. At the veterinarian’s recommendation, he was compassionately euthanized.

That left six. The remaining dogs were in various states of starvation or medical distress. Some had parasites. All had fleas. Most were suffering with anxiety or traumatic stress. I marveled at the determination of the KHS staff. Their weariness was pushed aside and replaced with a commitment to treat, heal and nurture these animals.

Over the next few weeks, we worked diligently to return them all to a healthy state. As Christmas approached, uncertainty gave way to hope. It looked more and more like these six dogs would soon have an opportunity for new, loving, forever homes. On December 23rd, we realized we weren’t quite correct. One of the females that had come to us so skinny you could count each of her ribs, gave us all a big surprise – she gave birth to five, healthy puppies. I got the word on Christmas Eve morning and shed more than a few happy tears.

That day in November when I witnessed the direct result of abuse and neglect, I was devastated. The images haunted me for days and weeks. I struggled to see anything else. To their credit, the vet techs, veterinary assistants and ward attendants of the KHS – who were also significantly affected – were able to see past the devastation to a positive future.

The puppies became a lesson in perseverance for me and a symbol of hope and strength for everyone here – staff and volunteers alike. We had seen the worst, we had done our best and out of that, came five beautiful new lives.

In just a few weeks, five puppies will have new homes and new families. They’ll have love, and cuddles and pats. They’ll be chasing tennis balls and chasing their tails. None of that would have been possible – their lives might not have been possible – without the steely resolve of 28 committed and resilient animal advocates. Well done team.

– 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 . 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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