A person of character is someone who takes a negative situation and makes it a positive one. That action and effort behind it says so much about a person. BestBullySticks.com knows hard work, dedication and a lot of care and compassion can go into changing circumstances for the better. Such is true of Kim Kapes and the rescue she founded, In Harmony With Nature. Both through personal experiences and bettering the lives of animals, Kim has not only made the best of it, but along with the dedicated IHWN volunteers has made a definitive difference. Read on to learn more about IHWN.

When & Why did you start?
In Harmony With Nature Animal Haven started out as a bird and reptile refuge in 2004.  We saw the great need to help other animals so the mission was expanded and became a federally recognized 501(C)3 charity in 2006. Our President, Kim Kapes had left a career as a firefighter because of a back injury but had always been an animal advocate prior to and throughout that job. Kim was always the one saving the animals during the emergency situations as a firefighter. Kim relocated to Florida and found the perfect location to do work that she was passionate about. She was well aware of animals being in need of help and knew that her experiences in life led her to begin this new path.

What’s different about your rescue?
Kim spent time in England to further her knowledge of canine behavior and in the study of wolves. She developed an affinity for working with challenging dogs and began to specialize in rehab cases that other rescues would not take. Soon, Kim was evaluating wolf-dogs (hybrids) for other wolf rescue groups and decided to open the doors to those most misunderstood canines. Our group will travel across the Southeast to assist in rescue situations and bring animals back to the safety of our sanctuary.  Our animals mostly get to live in small pack settings to help their mind relax and start the process of healing.

What is the greatest success story or “win” that your rescue has had?
In the early time frame of our organization we took in some puppies that unknowingly had distemper. The virus spread to another liter and we had to go all out to save these precious little ones. We used both Eastern and Western veterinary interventions and had a 75% success rate. As good as that is, losing any was a tough thing. Two of the pups who beat the virus were Patti and Kodi. They were left with a constant muscle twitch that hampered their walking and caused the back legs to deteriorate. They both worked at growing up normally and they were so loving and playful.  The challenge would be getting them adopted with such a disability. The pups were two years old when a wonderful woman found Kodi online. She came out to meet him and realized Kodi had a sister. She could not bear the thought of separating them so she adopted them both. They already had two cats and two kids, so two dogs sounds just fine. Her daughter had epilepsy so she understood the seizures that the pups had gone through. As it turned out they became a great addition to the family and it was discovered that Patti detects the daughter’s seizures. The two dogs had found a loving forever home against all odds and have given back to the family in ways they could never have imagined.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working at your rescue?
Seeing the transformation of a shy, scared animal as they begin to bond to you and trust you. The day you get your first wolf kiss will be one to remember. These are lives that you are an integral part of making better.

What can people do to help your rescue?
Obviously donations are greatly needed. We are working to raise funds to purchase our currently leased land and to create a facility on a separate 30-acre property for a retreat center where you can meet real wolves and reconnect with nature. If you are in the Orlando area we always need volunteers for on-property or administrative help. We can always use fencing materials to expand the living areas of our long-term residents. Gift cards to Sam’s Club, Costco, Publix grocery stores, etc can go a long way. Share our IHWN Facebook page and help us spread the word about our work. Purchase a copy of Kim’s book “From Wags To Riches” as the proceeds Kim makes go back to the animals.

A HUGE “Thank You” to Kim and all the volunteers at In Harmony With Nature for seeing a need and meeting it; for helping animals and saving lives.