You know Maui has a stray animal problem when the words “Maui’s Feral Cat Population Is So Massive It’s Threatening A Bird Sanctuary” threaten you from a Huffington Post headline. The title sounds like a setup for a B-rate scary flick you’d find while scrolling through the inner-depths of Netflix, but Maui faces real terror as more owners abandon their pets leaving them to starve, be euthanized, or multiply into colonies that threaten other native species.
The Maui Humane Society donned a hero cape and decided to take an extra aggressive stance to save animals from this real-life horror scenario. They launched a massive spay and neuter campaign called MASH (Mobile Animal Surgical Hospital) to decrease unwanted animal births. Jerleen Bryant, CEO for The Maui Humane Society, reported that her organization’s last MASH clinic spayed and neutered 338 dogs in only four days, even saying that her team worked until 10pm.
“An uncle came in with nine chihuahuas,” Bryant said. “Someone’s dog even had 10 litters of puppies before.”
That’s only the dogs. Next week, from Monday, June 22 to Friday, June 27, another MASH clinic will spay and neuter your cats free of charge, services of which are funded through grants and the support of other organizations. Each kitty will receive a microchip and vaccine as added bonuses. Bryant set 600 cats as her target number of felines for the upcoming clinic that will span five days.
“We’re taking it really serious because it’s not fair to the animals that are born and not wanted,” she said. “We need the community to step up and fix their animals.”
Not a pet owner? You can still advocate for this campaign. Bryant encourages people to convince friends and neighbors to remove their animals’ reproductive urges. Bryant is adamant on reducing Maui’s abandoned animal rates, saying that the MASH clinics will be a five year campaign.
“For a population of 145,000 people we receive about 9,000 animals a year… per capita that’s a lot higher than which Oahu receives,” she said.
Dawn Hall, who helped found the Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation (HARF), stressed that it’s also important for animals to have permanent identification, like a microchip. Pets should also have a county license so anyone who finds them can return them to their homes.
“A lot of animals that we get have nothing,” Hall said.
In fact, the Maui Humane Society holds promotions all year. Their Kama‘aina Kitty Special is a current promotion that offers two cats for the price of one until the end of June; other promotions include $5 Feline Fridays and Senior Sundays (a senior dog can be adopted at half the usual price.) You can also stop by HARF’s adoption events on Saturdays and Sundays at Whole Foods in Kahului to see dogs ready to be adopted, only requiring a quick application and fee.
The word “rescue” may intimidate some people from giving other organizations a chance, but Valley Isle Animal Rescue owner Denis Burns said that the most common reason for their on-call emergencies is that a dog got loose, followed by a car hit. Burns added that they get the injured or abandoned animals used to socializing before they’re put up for adoption, so you can stick out your hand with more courage the next time you are seeking friendly licks from a rescue critter.
If your one-bedroom condo hinders you from being a full-time pet owner, you still might be able to foster an animal. The Humane Society and HARF both have programs enabling you to become a temporary parent. Just call the Humane Society’s Foster Care Coordinator or go through brief foster training with HARF. Even mainlanders and other visitors can join in the cause.
“Many of the foster parents are part-time residents and foster when they’re in town,” Hall said.
Both HARF and the Maui Humane Society provide foster volunteers all the supplies they need.
If you love animals but have serious allergies that bar pet ownership, you can still help. The Leilani Farm Sanctuary hosts a variety of animals from dogs to donkeys that you can sponsor for monthly fees ranging from $10 to $50. In return, you’ll receive an adoption certificate that you can hang on your wall to prove that you saved an animal’s life, despite skepticism from friends and family who know you turn into a human beetroot when a cat as so much enters your vicinity within a 100-foot radius.
Overall, people should just have an open mind when visiting these organizations because the animals there can defy their expectations.
“There’s a myth you can’t find a purebred in the shelter,” Bryant said. “We have a variety of dogs. Our inventory changes daily.”
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For more information, please contact the following organizations:
MAUI HUMANE SOCIETY
HAWAII ANIMAL RESCUE FOUNDATION (HARF)
VALLEY ISLE ANIMAL RESCUE
9TH LIFE HAWAII
LEILANI FARM SANCTUARY