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Man’s Best Friend

by Deborah Lew / Los Angeles Kings
There’s a reason they’re called ‘man’s best friend.’

Furry friends are always there when you need them – whether it’s alerting you to someone at the front door, making sure your dinner plate is emptied, or applying a protective coating of pet hair to your furniture, they’ve got it covered…no pun intended.

Just because the LA Kings do half their work away from home, doesn’t mean the players are exempt from needing and wanting the unconditional love and companionship that animals have to give.

The following is a list of Kings players and their dogs:

Drew Doughty – Beagle named Reggie
Alec Martinez – Australian Cattle/Beagle mix named Hank
Anze Kopitar – Golden Doodle named Gustl
Dustin Brown – Golden Doodle named Milo
Jeff Carter – Shitsu/Yorkie mix named Mack and Bichon named Miley
Dwight King – Shitsu named Habs
Mike Richards – Black Lab named Arnold
Justin Williams – Border Collie named Prince
Willie Mitchell – King Charles Cavalier/Beagle mix named Pinot
Kyle Clifford – Italian Mastiff named Harley

This weekend, the Kings and the Kings Care Foundation are participating in a few different animal support initiatives that fans can also get involved in.

This afternoon, Kopitar, Carter, the Kings Ice Crew, Bailey the mascot and Kings President of Business Operations, Luc Robitaille, among others, are expected at the NKLA (No Kill Los Angeles) Pet Adoption Center in West Los Angeles. They will be participating in a photo shoot on behalf of the Center in order to help get pets adopted.

During Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets at STAPLES Center, the Kings Care Foundation will be conducting a silent auction, which will feature pet bowls designed and decorated by the Kings and their significant others, and signed by the players. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles (spcaLA).

On Sunday, the Kings and Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) will be hosting a Mobile Pet Adoption at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Fans are encouraged to watch the Kings practice (time TBD) and adopt an animal, if they have been considering doing so. Those who adopt on Sunday will receive tickets to Monday’s Kings game against the Minnesota Wild or other incentive packages. Co-branded, autographed pucks will also be on sale for $25, with all proceeds benefiting BFAS.

Helping dogs get adopted is not a new phenomenon for some of the Kings. During the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, some of the NHL players and their significant others went to great length to get two particular stray dogs back to North America in hopes of raising awareness about the mistreatment of animals.

The problematic stray dog situation in Sochi didn’t come as a total surprise to those involved, and prior to the trip Carter made his girlfriend, Megan Keffer, a huge animal lover, promise that Mack and Miley would not be inheriting any new Russian siblings.

Keffer, Ines Kopitar, and Nicole Arruda (Doughty’s girlfriend) were part of a contingency that worked tirelessly to get ‘Sochi Jake’ and ‘Sochi Junior’ out of Russia. Jake and Junior managed to distinguish themselves by hanging around the NHLPA house relentlessly.

After getting the dogs medical checkups that included de-worming and flea/tick treatment in Russia, they were able to file the necessary paperwork to bring the pups home. The hardest part of the already-challenging mission was identifying the actual regulations and laws they were required to obey while overcoming the language barrier.

After roaming the streets of Sochi for the first few months of their lives, the pups found themselves on a charter flight back to St. Louis with USA and St. Louis Blues forward David Backes. He and his wife Kelly founded their own non-profit organization called ‘Athletes for Animals,’ which seeks to raise awareness for the welfare of homeless pets by connecting athlete ambassadors with shelters across the US.

At this point, Jake and Junior have satisfied their confinement period, and have been fully vaccinated. Junior is being adopted by the parents of Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, and Jake is being adopted by New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan.

All of this goes to show that no matter what team you play for, and what language you speak, animal love is a connection shared by all.

*Thanks to Megan Keffer for contributing to this story.

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