Ken loses his beloved Kea
Kea and Ken Reid go above and beyond the call of duty for animals that are lost or in distress. This photo was taken in 2011, when they had picked up this black lab and were hoping to find its family. Postmedia Network file photo
All who knew Kea Reid will recognize the words she lived by - the words she always said when parting, or at the end of the letters or cards she wrote.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake woman, who with her husband Ken worked as the town's animal control officers for the last 16 years, died Sunday night, surrounded by family, in a Hamilton hospital. She had been taken to the hospital Sunday, Feb. 21, after suffering a heart attack. She was 60 years old.
Kea and Ken had been together for more than 40 years, and were inseparable. Family say they are one person - that is how they are thought of, says Laurie Reid, Ken's sister-in-law.
"Nobody ever just said 'Ken,' or 'Kea.' It was always Ken and Kea,'" said Laurie.
Ken is devastated, emotionally distraught, she said - Kea was the love of his life, and everything they did, they did together.
"They met when they were just kids. It seems like they have always been together," says Laurie.
But the huge outpouring of support since Kea's condition was made public has helped him immensely, Laurie said.
"He's overwhelmed to know how much everybody cares, that they touched so many people."
The whole family has been overcome with emotion from the flood of phone calls in support of Ken, from people who want to help, she said.
"I had no idea they touched so many people. I knew they were good people, that they took their job to heart and helped a lot of people, but I can't believe the number of calls we've had from families Ken and Kea helped. They took their job so much further than they were expected to, getting involved and searching for hours, knowing how important it was to a family who had lost a dog. They such big hearts - they were more than dog catchers or canine control officers, they were caregivers."
Unfortunately, under contract to the town for the services they were providing, Ken has no benefits, no sick pay, and at the moment, there is no way he can work, said Laurie.
They have been living in a house that's more than 100 years old, one that was passed down through Kea's family, and has no heat - his furnace isn't working.
They have been so dedicated to the work they do, and given so much of themselves to their family, friends and the community,"it's time we give something back," says Laurie.
Whenever anyone needed help, whenever there was a family member that needed looking after, Kea was always there for them, making sure everyone's looked after.
It was the same with their business, which was more of a passion than a job.
Whatever the time, what ever the weather, they'd go to look for a missing pet, or to pick up a dog that had been found wandering - although their contract didn't require a 24-hour response, they were so dedicated that they chose to make it their job to be available.
Sylvia Winter is one of the many NOTL residents who have been helped by Ken and Kea - beginning soon after she moved here, and lost one of her Newfoundland dogs. They were able to find the dog quickly, and since she takes in strays, they have come to her aid several time since, becoming friends in the process.
"They would sit down for a cup of coffee, and then they'd get a call about an animal and they'd leave. It didn't matter what time it was."
They took their position very seriously, and very personally, said Winter, and through their job, got to know people in the community. If they knew someone who wasn't doing well, they would do their best to help, she said.
"Now Ken needs our support," said Laurie. As much as he has given to others throughout the years, it's our time to give back to him, even if it's just to take the time to send positive thoughts their way. He needs our thoughts and our prayers."
A trust account was being set up Monday at the TD bank, although it was likely going to be Tuesday before it was finalized.
To make a donation to help Ken with funeral and other expenses, a Kea and Ken Reid gofundme account has been set up at https://www.gofundme.com/xkrknedx.
For more information on how to help, call Sylvia Winter at 905-468-8193, or Laurie Reid at 905-468-5907.
Funeral arrangements were also being made Monday, and the family said they would make the details public as soon as they are finalized.