Goodbye to one of the Biggest Paws

Hot Off the Collar | Volume 6

The story of Sean and Rupert, like so many of the heart-tugging, smile-inducing stories we see here at the Kingston Humane Society, was born out of dire circumstances.

On Christmas morning, in 2009, Officer Sean McCaffrey of the OPP was working 401 duty. Early that day, as the rest of us were opening stockings and settling in with our families, Sean spotted a black lab that had been hit by a car. He parked his cruiser, grabbed a few dog treats and cautiously walked towards the injured pooch. As he approached, he could see the dog lying in a pool of icy water. He needed to act quickly. Sean held out a few treats. The lab didn’t whine or growl. He actually wagged his tail and gobbled down the snack. Sean removed his duty coat, wrapped it around the dog and lifted it up. He could feel bones that were out of place or broken as he navigated the frozen ground back to the car. He transported the dog to the Kingston Regional Animal Hospital. The on-call vet wasn’t sure if he would survive. They stabilized him but he would require more substantial surgery and a long recovery period. With help from Dr. Cherie White and with support from the Kingston Humane Society (KHS), the beautiful black lab, dubbed “Rupert” would pull through. It was a long road of rehabilitation, but in August of 2010, Officer Sean McCaffrey officially adopted Rupert. Later that fall, Sean decided he wanted to give back to the Kingston Humane Society so he and Rupert walked in our annual “Big Paws” fundraising event. To no one’s surprise, they raised more money in pledges than anybody else. That trend continued…FOR 10 YEARS. Each year, Sean would rally his friends, family and colleagues. They would raise a bunch of money and walk alongside all of the other dogs. This year at Big Paws we celebrated Sean and Rupert’s 10th anniversary of walking, raising in excess of $10,000. As a result, they became celebrities with appearances on TV and radio and their community of fans and supporters grew rapidly.

Sadly, last November, Rupert was diagnosed with cancer in his left, rear leg. Normally doctors would amputate the leg and eliminate any chance of the cancer spreading but in Rupert’s case, the comprehensive nature of his injuries and repairs made that impossible. Sean then made a decision to proceed with palliative care:

“His best friend and Doctor, Cherie White prescribed a pain management therapy and he continued on as normal…well as normal as it gets for a dog rebuilt after being hit on the 401!! We had a great 3 weeks of eating and drinking all the food (he may have shared a Corona as well…) but sadly, Rupert was put to rest this morning…I will forever be grateful to KHS for their gift to me. He was given an extra 10 yrs nobody thought he had and lived large!!! I like to think he helped save many dogs along the way…” — Officer Sean McCaffrey

As you can imagine, the entire staff of the KHS was devastated to hear the news. Sean and Rupert helped hundreds of dogs during their journey together and set a standard of care and compassion not easily surpassed. We are proud to have played a role in Rupert’s life and prouder still of the work the two of them did to promote animal welfare in our community.

In recognition of the significant amount of donations Sean and Rupert raised over ten years at Big Paws, we’re re-naming the award for most Big Paws pledges in Rupert’s honour. From this point forward, The Rupert Award will be given to the individual who raises the most in pledges for the annual KHS Big Paws walk.

We’ll miss you Rupert but your legacy of strength, tenacity and courage will last for a very long time. Rest easy big fella.

– Gord Hunter, Executive Director

View All Issues

Rupert and Sean, Paw in Hand

“Officer Sean McCaffrey and Dr. Cherie White with Rupert.”

For Inspirations, News, Events and Much More

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

© Copyright Kingston Humane Society 2020 | Charitable Business Number: 119240604RR0001 

Designed and Powered by CreativeCarbon


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

Donate Today!