There are few things cuter than costumed children and pups, and the Indian River Shores Public Safety Complex and Community Center were awash in both at the third annual H.A.L.O. Howls event to benefit H.A.L.O. No-Kill Rescue.
“We’ve had a good relationship with H.A.L.O. for years,” said Indian River Shores Chief Rich Rosell, adding that they used to foster shelter dogs at their headquarters and hope to do so again.
Public Safety employees went all out with their annual haunted house, filling the entire first floor of the firehouse with things that go bump in the night, including oh-so-creepy characters from scary movies.
“The kids love it; actually, some of the kids have gone through like two or three times,” said Det. Tony Starzynski. “It’s great; the chief goes all out. He’s all about community policing.”
There was also a much less frightening hayride, raffles, a costume contest and, inside the Community Center, vendors and refreshments. And, of course, there were some adorable and adoptable pups.
“We’re excited to pick events back up. It’s a beautiful time of year and it’s great getting together again,” said Jacque Petrone, H.A.L.O. executive director.
She said that surrenders have been extra high and adoptions low compared to prior years, “so we’ve got great dogs that are sitting longer than normal.” To compensate, they periodically hold sponsored adoption events where fees are waived.
After Hurricane Ian, they took in dogs from a Fort Myers shelter. Unfortunately, five out of 12, including a gorgeous husky named Myra, were heart-worm positive.
“With heartworms it’s frustrating, because once they start their injections their heart rate can’t get elevated. So then they can’t go into a home,” said Petrone. “We try to get them into foster or adoption before the injections start. If not, they kind of get locked in for two to three months before they can go back for adoption.”
They also take in dogs from the islands, such as Bobby, a very friendly Bahamian potcake (a mixed breed common to the islands).
“He’s a sweet, sweet boy,” said Allyson Bootes, director of development. “We try to rescue them off the islands as much as possible and help the Humane Society of Grand Bahama, because down there they only have about a 10 percent adoption rate. We’re all a bunch of bleeding hearts, and Jacque’s the worst of all of us. She just doesn’t like to say no. So anytime we get asked for help, we try our best to bring them in.”
While Petrone said their plans to build a $1.5 million, 5,000-square-foot facility have been put on hold, they are going ahead with construction of an 800-square-foot, 12-room Fresh Start Center for dogs that have been there longer and/or that need behavioral training. “So they can come out of the kennels and go into a room type environment, which helps decompress them,” said Petrone.
“I’m really excited about it because I’m trying to create as much movement as possible for the ones that don’t get looked at; get them rehabilitated and into homes. It’ll be directly for the animals, and it will be a significant help. It’ll help us intake more because it will free up the cages that they’ve been in.”
On Dec. 9 H.A.L.O. will host its Masquerade Fur Ball at Cobalt. For more information, visit HALORescueFl.org.
Photos by Joshua Kodis