ORLANDO, Fla. – Kim Kapes, director of In Harmony With Nature Animal Haven, is this week's News 6 Getting Results Award winner.
In Harmony with Nature is a two-and-a-half acre rescue and sanctuary specializing in the wolf dog-mixed breeds.
The secluded Orlando facility located under a canopy of oaks is the last stop for many animals that have been abandoned or neglected.
"My goal and my mission is to bring these animals peace and harmony," Kapes said as she walked the fence line of one of the pens.
A pair of white wolf dogs paced back and forth, watching her every move. Another rested in the sun, calm and relaxed.
"Whatever we can do to keep making it better for these animals is our goal," she said.
Two dozen dogs call the sanctuary home, and Kapes said they are unlikely to be adopted.
"They're not bad animals by any means," she said. "They're wonderful in the right setting."
But many owners, she said, purchase the dogs on impulse, without researching their genetic tendencies. Kapes said in some cases the wolf/dog cross is weighted heavily in favor of the wolf, with behaviors that match.
"These animals are extremely misunderstood," she said. "They're like dogs on steroids. Their behaviors are all intensified."
According to Kapes, the canine breed can be more challenging in domestic settings, and owners unprepared to deal with intense behavior often find themselves abandoning or neglecting the animals. She said shelters often mislabel the mix and limit their chance for adoption.
"Education is the biggest part of this situation," Kapes said. "There are people who are breeding animals and selling to folks who are not prepared and all that does is come back on the animal and put them in a situation where they might find themselves on the euthanasia list."
Kapes said finding suitable adoption for unwanted pets is her primary role.
"When we do come across the ones we can help, we try to do it without them coming here to the facility, and that's where it takes a lot of networking from an experienced community and a very good team," she said.
Kapes was nominated for the Getting Results Award by volunteer Jane Kerr.
"Her whole philosophy is about life and nature and how everything is interconnected," Kerr said. "You just know she cares, truly cares."
In Harmony with Nature is not open to the public. The rescue broadcasts a live video segment called "Wolf Wednesday" on its Facebook account.
Anyone looking to volunteer or support with facility maintenance can learn more at IHWN.Org.