by Barry KuKes
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. It has been my pleasure and an absolute joy to have written this pet column for the last three and a half years. Over those years, I wrote more than 180 columns, 150 of which have been featured in two books, Why Do People Have Pets? and Why Do Pets
Have People? All of the proceeds from these books have benefited our community’s animals.
The other day, I received an e-mail about Smokey, a 14-year-old Golden Retriever destined to be put down due to a large cancerous mass in his stomach. The owners had veterinary insurance on Smokey and decided to pay their $500 deductible for the operation. That was over 2-years ago, and Smokey is still going strong. He is a certified therapy dog and routinely visits senior centers and nursing homes.
Many things have transpired during the time I have been writing this column. The Halifax Humane Society transformed from a 1960s shelter with a live release rate of 77.3 percent to a completely renovated and welcoming facility now qualifying as a no-kill shelter with a live release rate of 94 percent.
We owe much thanks and gratitude to our board of directors and leadership, who had a vision for the future and accomplished their goals.
On the national scene, the country is politically divided right down the middle. Still, for the most part, every American supported more than 3,500 animal shelters nationwide. The homeless animal rate de- creased, and more people have become pet parents than ever before. Keep it up, America! There is a home for every pet and a pet for every home. We just have to be better at matching the two at the very time of adoption. Together, we can change the world.
Please explore every possible option of rehoming before surrendering your pet to a shelter. Most animal shelters are at or near their capacity levels and are also understaffed. Caring for 300-plus animals each and every day is a monumental task and requires the commitment of an army of dedicated employees and volunteers. Without the devotion of these animal advocates, animal shelters would not exist. The next time you visit an animal shelter, and you have to wait longer than you expected or feel the staff person was rude; please keep in mind they are juggling many tasks at once and trying please everyone.
Please give them the benefit of the doubt and a smile instead of a scowl, and the experience will become a happy one.
I will no longer write this pet column because I have decided to retire from my director position with HHS. I am leaving on good terms, and my reason for resigning is to spend more time pursuing other interests. I am 65 years old, and it’s time to, at the very least, semi-retire. I will still write for whoever will have me, and I have reactivated my real estate license, which I have had for nearly 20 years.
I look forward to working part-time until I can no longer physically work.
Please continue to support the animal shelters in your area. Animals need our help. They depend on us for food, shelter, medical care, preventative care, grooming, happiness, love, and commitment. They need us for their lifetime, not just a year or two. Give an animal a forever home, and it will give you its heart and loyalty.
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sunshine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand. Oh, yes, and of course, adopt, don’t shop.
Barry KuKes is the Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society. You can reach Barry at 386.274.4703, ext. 320, or BarryK@halifaxhumanesociety.org