Remembering the soldiers and their animals

Hot Off the Collar | Volume 4

November is rarely anybody’s favourite month. It lacks the optimism of April and May or the carefree spirit of June and July. And even though November is still technically part of autumn, it seems as if, right after Halloween, the brilliant blaze of October colours is immediately swapped out for skeletal trees and monotone skies. Perhaps that’s appropriate. Maybe the lack of seasonal distractions in the month of November creates a perfect atmosphere for contemplating Remembrance Day.

As a nation, our focus on November 11th is the loss of human life and the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in our defense. That focus is clear and should never waver, but as I sit here surrounded by dogs and cats, I find myself wondering about the loyal animals that joined our ancestors in their noble efforts.

To be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve considered the toll taken on animals in war. My grandfather, Trooper Arthur Hunter, was a member of the Scottish cavalry unit, the Royal Scots Greys. He fought, on horseback in World War I at the Battle of the Somme; one of the most brutal battles in Allied history. He only ever spoke about the war once; while he was under sedation near the end of his life. In those moments, he relived his time on the battlefield. I won’t share the disturbing details but at one point, he screamed out over the number of horses lost. More than 100 years later, I have no idea if my grandfather’s horse survived the war. However, the British army lists 137,931 horses lost from 1916-1918.

Dogs also played an important role during the First World War. They were messengers, they stood guard in the trenches and they provided critical, psychological comfort to injured soldiers both on the field of battle and inside hospitals.

Animals teach us valuable lessons about faith, loyalty and unconditional love. Under the worst conditions imaginable, they also display incredible bravery and a willingness to sacrifice themselves for something bigger. The soldiers who protected us faced almost certain death with courage and dignity and they did so for their country and for their family. The animals did the same, in service of their owners.

On Remembrance Day or on any day as you stand beneath the grey ceiling of a November sky, remember those who gave their lives for our freedom, whether human, equine or canine.

– 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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