News & Features
Seven Central Florida rescue organizations making a difference for animals in our region
Published: February 6, 2013
SPECIALIZES IN: Thoroughbred horses
ANIMALS ADOPTED OUT EACH YEAR: 50
ANIMALS UP FOR ADOPTION NOW? 100
What happens to thoroughbred horses when they've been permanently injured or retired and can't race anymore? You probably don't want to know.
"We are one of the few programs that take in injured or retired racehorses from the track, so we fulfill a big niche," says Cassie Klein, Florida TRAC volunteer website manager and horse trainer. "Without us most of these horses would have been sold to slaughter or neglected the rest of their lives."
Florida TRAC takes in horses from all around the state. Sometimes they even take in horses from out of state, since there really aren't enough horse rescues to take in the number of animals who can't race anymore – or, for that matter, simply
aren't wanted because they don't perform well.
"Not all of our horses came to us from injury," Klein says. "Some just didn't make good racehorses."
Florida TRAC matches retired racehorses with families that will recognize a horse's needs and talents. Adopted horses have made good family pets, trail horses, show horses or pasture pals, and some have gone on to second careers in eventing, jumping, dressage and hunting. Others work in vocational and life skill programs with children and adults. The organization keeps adoption costs low to make sure that horses go to the right homes, and they work diligently to ensure that the horses go to those people who can understand the truth about these pets: "Rescue animals are not always broken, they're not always 'second-hand' animals," Klein says. "They're just animals looking for the same love, care and attention that any animal would need."
In Harmony With Nature Animal Haven
WEBSITE: inharmony.petfinder.com and kimkapes.com/inharmony.html
SPECIALIZES IN: Wolves, wolf dogs, Northern breeds, shepherds and some exotics
ANIMALS ADOPTED OUT EACH YEAR: 50
ANIMALS UP FOR ADOPTION NOW: 30
Kim Kapes' life has revolved around rescuing animals. After a serious injury ended her career as a firefighter in Virginia, she moved to Orlando and her love of animals took over.
She worked in zoos, where she gained valuable experience learning about animal behavior, and she opened a parrot and wildlife sanctuary. Over time, the organization's website says, other animals began "finding their way" into the sanctuary, and its mission had to change. It evolved into In Harmony With Nature Animal Haven, which today is a safe place for animals of many species – especially wolves and wolf dogs. A strange evolution? Not so much, according to Kapes.
"I began to see a gift I had with reading animal behavior and started to focus on the more intense animals," she says. "That moved into working with wolves and wolf dogs, as there is not much help available for these canines."
The organization, which currently exists on a humble two-acre spread in northwest Orlando, is planning to expand its facility onto 30 acres, where it can build a nature retreat where wolves and other animals can live in a more natural setting – and where In Harmony With Nature can provide public education about wildlife rehabilitation and conservation.
"We work on bringing peace and harmony not only to the animals but to the people who are looking for that connection as well," Kapes says.
> Email Katherine Ramirez Massey