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Kingston Humane Society desperately seeking foster home volunteers

Cats have to double up at Kingston Humane Society (KHS) due to an overwhelming number of animals at the shelter. Image via KHS.

The Kingston Humane Society currently has more animals in their care than at any single point in the organization’s 137-year history. The shelter is well beyond its capacity to care for all these animals and has put out a call for individuals willing to adopt cats, dogs or other small animals, or provide foster homes until permanent homes can be found.

As of Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, the Kingston Humane Society (KHS) reported they have 294 animals in care. For comparison on October 18, 2020, the KHS had 139 animals in care. That’s a jump of 112 per cent over last year and a 65 per cent increase over pre-COVID numbers in 2019, according to a release from the organization.

The number of animals available for adoption has also jumped dramatically, KHS said. Over 100 animals are currently listed on the KHS website and available for adoption.

Executive Director Gord Hunter says that the reason behind this staggering increase comes down to a number of different factors.

“We’ve seen more surrenders than normal and we’re taking in more animals from investigations than we have in the past,” said Hunter. “We’re also seeing more strays being brought into the shelter, and kitten season, which normally peaks in late spring or early summer, seems to be lingering much longer this year.”

Hunter can’t say for certain if this strain on their resources is a direct result of people returning animals that were adopted during the height of COVID.

“I’m sure that as people have returned to offices and workplaces, it’s had an effect on our numbers but it can’t account for everything,” he said. “For example, we have 18 bottle feeding kittens right now. Those kittens were born within the last three to four weeks. I can’t see how that could be tied directly to COVID.”

Bottle feeders – kittens without a mother to nurse them – need regular round-the-clock feedings. The experience required for that type of care is not always found within the volunteers in the foster program, so several KHS staff members, after working 8, 10 or 12 hours, are taking home kittens to feed every four hours through the night, the organization said. Throughout the pandemic, KHS said that the Foster Volunteer program has been indispensable.

“Without our foster volunteers, we would be turning animals away by the hundreds,” said Hunter.

The animal capacity limit in the shelter is 124. During times of great demand, that number has swollen to 140 with the use of emergency kennels but with nearly 300 animals currently in care the situation is untenable, according to the release. KHS said that the Foster Program has become an essential element of housing Kingston’s animals but it is not a permanent solution.

With December looming, the KHS expects that many animals still in foster will be returned as people prepare for the Christmas holidays. This concern, along with the inherent financial strain in treating, caring for and feeding more than twice their maximum capacity, has forced the Kingston Humane Society to put out a desperate call for individuals willing to adopt cats, dogs or other small animals, according to the release. Foster volunteers are also urgently required.

Applications to adopt or foster, as well as donations to help with care, can be made via the website at kingstonhumanesociety.ca

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