After over a year of holding virtual events, Saturday marked the in-person return of the Kingston Humane Society’s (KHS) annual Big Paws fundraiser.
“Losing those events during the pandemic was really, really difficult,” says KHS Executive Director Gord Hunter. “This is like a big coming-out party for everybody to be back in person. We’re just happy to be able to do this and hopefully go forward with more in-person events, because we raise about $80,000 from in-person events.”
Those donations make a big difference for the organization, as 70 per cent of KHS funding comes from the public.
Hunter says that he’s seen an 85 per cent jump in the number of animals in their care. Last year at this time, KHS was caring for 133 animals, and as of this week, they have 233 animals in care.
“Right now we have more animals in care, more animals available for adoption than we’ve ever had at a single point in time,” says Hunter. “Our goal is to make sure we get those animals into forever homes and Kingston has been great and the community has been amazing, not just in supporting events, but in supporting us through adoptions as well.”
While waiting for adoption, many animals enter foster care.
For some Kingstonians, the pandemic has made fostering a more viable option.
“I think the pandemic helped in our decision because we were at home,” says Julia Hale. She and her family are currently fostering a dog with KHS.
“I’m a teacher so I was at home more, my husband started working from home, the kids were home. We were just around, so we knew that we could provide the care to a foster that maybe we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” Hale says.
Savannah Kilpatrick, who has dreams of becoming a veterinarian, started fostering dogs three months ago and is now fostering her second dog, Apollo.
“When they’re at home, you get to see them come out of their shell,” says the 17-year-old. “You see what they like, what they don’t like, how they like their routines. And you just really get to see who the dog really is.”
While donations continue to roll in, the Kingston Humane Society has already confirmed that at least $19,000 was raised at Saturday’s event. That’s at least 32 per cent more raised than the last in-person fundraiser in 2019.
For more information on how to donate, foster or adopt, head to https://kingstonhumanesociety.ca.