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Rich Strike, Wins The Kentucky Derby

by Barry KuKes

You may have heard that a horse, Rich Strike, an 80-1 underdog, won the Kentucky Derby on May 7th. I have watched the race replay half a dozen times, and I still feel happy for the underdog each time. I didn’t particularly appreciate seeing the horse hit with the riding crop so hard, nor did I approve of the guy in the red jacket hitting the horse in the face to try to control him. I don’t ever recall an auto racing owner running out on the track of the Daytona 500 and slapping his driver for doing doughnuts after winning the race. I feel the horse earned the right to act up if desired.

How does this horse winning the Super Bowl of horse racing relate to homeless animals at the shelter? All of the shelter animals are underdogs (and cats) as well. Granted, the shelter animals aren’t competing in a race on a track, but they are competing in the race called life.

There are over 100 animals available for adoption on any given day, yet there are only 50 potential adopters, and not all will decide to adopt. Last week, there were only 57 adoptions at the shelter, even though the adoption fees for all animals one-year and older had been waived. In the same period, there were 91 animals brought into the shelter due to owners surrendering and stray animals found by animal control or the public. If you do the math, you will realize that the shelter receives about twice as many animals as it adopts, which is why we are in a constant state of capacity.

To add fuel to the fire, we are at the beginning of kitten season. As of this writing, we have already received over 162 kittens in need of fostering. If you see a litter of kittens, and the mother cat is nowhere in sight, do not gather the kittens and bring them to a shelter. It is very seldom that a mother cat deserts her kittens.

The mother cat is probably hunting for food and will return in a couple of hours. If the mother cat is gone for more than a day, the kittens will need a surrogate mother or to be bottle-fed, but mother cats are good about hiding from humans, so don’t assume desertion. Kittens will be available for adoption once altered at around 6-weeks old.

Potential adopters who visit the shelter will often comment that we don’t usually have smaller dogs or puppies, and we have a lot of bully-breed older dogs. This is a true statement because older bully breed dogs are the most difficult to get adopted. Smaller dogs, puppies, and kittens are often adopted before they are even posted on our website.
Timing is everything when it comes to finding the right furry friend. I tell people interested in adopting to visit often because we receive new animals regularly. Most of the time, it takes a lot of effort to find the right animal to adopt. Make an effort, and you will find your new best friend.

Please help us find forever homes for our community’s homeless animals. Each one is in a race against 100 other animals to win your heart. That’s a lot of competition, and the senior animals are often overlooked. There is no better feeling for the animal than to be in the winner’s circle, especially if that circle is your home.
Remember, adopt, don’t shop.

Barry KuKes is the Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach. He can be reached at 386.274.4703, ext. 320, or at