Lessons from Mom

Hot Off the Collar | Volume 3

We learn so much from our parents: manners, social norms, language skills, how to behave, how NOT to behave and probably most of all, how to love. Or perhaps more accurately, WHO to love. In my mother’s case, I learned to love family and friends but I also learned to love the animals we share the world with. At five years old, I can vividly recall Mom opening the screen on our front door whenever she cooked spare-ribs. Why? Because a stray black lab she named “Lucky” would come by for leftovers. At 10 years old, I learned a level of patience that belied my age by watching Mom at our cottage on Beaver Lake, wait for hours until the local chipmunk worked up the courage to take a peanut from her hand. I followed her example and sat more still than any 10-year old in the history of 10-year olds, until that same chipmunk – christened “Charlie” by Mom – decided that he could trust the tow-headed little boy. That particular “skill” lasted my entire life. In August on our family holiday at Beaver Lake, Mom and I once again, and sadly, for the last time, enjoyed a special connection while we waited for Charlie’s great-great-great-great-great grandchild to come and take yet another peanut from us. I remember looking at Mom’s hands that day. They carried all the wrinkles and crevices of a life well-lived but they also carried tremendous kindness and compassion. I am convinced that all the animals she cared for with those hands, somehow understood that. From Lucky the neighborhood mooch to Rocky, my childhood border collie to Annie and Clara the two grey tabby cats, to her “grand-dogs” Charlie, Sammy, Barney, Murphy and Sophie. Later, after most of these animals were gone, she volunteered her time at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre.

Mom had a great smile; a smile that made you feel like you might be missing out on something. It was never brighter than when she was talking about her connection to animals. In April, when I told her that I’d been offered the job of Executive Director for the Kingston Humane Society, I saw that very same smile. A week or two into my tenure, Mom, who by this time, had some pretty serious mobility issues, came into my office. Like most moms, she was proud of whatever I chose to do for a living, but she was particularly happy with my choice to join the KHS.

Mom died on September 6th after a short illness. A couple of days before she passed away, I was sitting with her in the hospital room and we started reminiscing about Charlie the chipmunk and how much we both enjoyed feeding him and his offspring. We laughed at the memories of him stuffing two and sometimes three peanuts into his cheek pouches. After the laughter died down, I told her that I didn’t think I would have gotten to where I was in life, without her. She smiled and assured me she had nothing to do with it.

But she did.

She does.

And she always will.

Thanks Mom.

– 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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