I guess if you have to experience at least part of your life as a shelter animal, there are far worse places to land than the Kauai Humane Society. At least, that is true now in 2022. That was not-so-true as recently as a half-dozen years ago.
As I mentioned in last week’s blog, I first came to Kauai in my “past life”, starting about a dozen years ago. Whenever I travel, I miss my critters immensely. Plus, as a retired veterinarian, humane societies are a natural draw as well. Therefore, it was pretty much a given that I would scope out KHS. My first photos appear to be in 2013, when Lucy and Yager appeared.
Although I had never owned a dog smaller than a Border collie, Lucy the recalcitrant unhousebroken Chihuahua/Corgi mix ended up flying home with us in 2013. But I get ahead of myself…
KHS has a “Take a Shelter Dog on a Field Trip” program. I believe they told us in 2013 that about HALF of the dogs that go out with tourists go home with them! Maybe I am misremembering that, as it seems like a lot. But Lucy did, indeed, make her home in Kansas upon our return. And she never did figure out how to quit marking in the house… Lucy still resides with my daughter.
Perhaps the most amazing detail to report about the current operation of KHS is the fact that they are now a no-kill shelter. This is positively amazing, as the death rate was alarmingly high at the time we snagged Lucy. We took out Lucy and Yager in 2013. I am honestly not sure what happened to Yager. I will tell you more about Skye momentarily.
The problem is that many locals use dogs to hunt wild boar in the interior of the island. There is a disproportionate number of Whippets, Airedales, Pit Bulls, and hound types on this island. When we first came a decade ago, I was shocked at how many dogs showed tufts of Airedale hair at least somewhere on their body! When the locals take a couple of dozen dogs out to hunt, they are not terribly concerned if a few don’t make it back. There are plenty more where those came from.
KHS has done a remarkable job of pushing spay/neuter services, microchipping animals, and raising the bar for the management and care of local island pets. Additionally, they have partnered with several different airlines and they regularly fly animals off the island to shelters on the west coast. Apparently, last year they even chartered a special flight that transported over 200 animals at once!
It was in 2014 that I met Skye. Any dog that resembles a Border collie gets my attention. Like many BC’s or BC mixes, Skye was not faring well in the shelter. He was timid and shy and not very appealing to potential adopters. That year was my last trip to Kauai until after my divorce and remarriage to Alan.
Skye accompanied us more than once on field trips that year. At that time, there was no charge for this program. Now there is a $40 charge each time you go out with a dog. I always contributed to the facility anyway, so I certainly didn’t mind when we had to pay this year. I took photos of Skye and began my marketing campaign almost immediately, hoping to find him a permanent placement. I knew they were eyeing him for the death list because of his super timid personality…
We paid his adoption fee and returned home that January in 2014. I continued to try and find him a placement on the mainland, with no success. At one point I called KHS to find out how he was doing. I was stunned to learn that they had already euthanized him and applied the adoption fee we had paid to another dog. It broke my heart.
Therefore, you can imagine my delight when I learned that KHS has now become a no-kill shelter. I must say, this facility has gone from one that appeared to me to be doing many things wrong to one that is now doing many things right.
This year we took JJ for a long walk on the Kapaa bike path. Although JJ’s write up said something about being a BC mix, there is no way! He’s pretty much a Staffordshire terrier. He exemplified an animal that has had no one show him what it is like to be someone’s special dog. He was sweet, but distant. He’s clueless about human relationships. I have no doubt that could change when he was someone’s special dog, but right now, he just exists. We totally wore him out on our 5 mile walk!
Betty White was a huge advocate for animals, and Facebook is full of the suggestion that folks donate to a shelter in honor of Betty’s 100th birthday. By the time this blog posts, that date will have come and gone… but you can still donate! If ever you wanted to know you were making a difference, this is one place that would absolutely use your money wisely. Consider the following statistics:
- On average, 11 animals come each day to KHS, seeking shelter. Each one requires vaccines, dewormer, flea treatment, and heartworm medication before they can enter the main facility. This costs $83 per animal or $913 per day.
- They take in over 1,000 dogs per year and over 1,500 cats, with an average length of stay at 51 days.
- Each kitten season they take in almost 500 neonatal kittens. They require intubation, formula, bottles, medical care, and more to reach the age where they are adoptable. This costs $140 per kitten.
- Beginning in 2021, they have also begun to care for kittens with ringworm or panleukopenia, which requires intensive and costly care.
- Shelter intake prevention is preventing owner surrenders by providing vaccines, microchips, and free spay/neuter vouchers during houseless/low-income outreach events. The cost of one event is $3,500.
- KHS has been offering free cat spay/neuter clinics, performing 35 surgeries per clinic, on average, every other month.
- Each month KHS transfers about 50 animals to their mainland shelter partners. To prepare for a flight, each animal needs a crate, health certificate, rabies vaccine, spay/neuter surgery, and a plane ticket. This costs $450 per animal.
- Not all animals qualify for transfer due to their health, so KHS offers a hospice program to ensure that their golden years include a comfy bed.
Again, I can say with absolute confidence that any dollars donated to KHS will definitely make a difference in the lives of Kauai’s animals. Can you help?
A very exciting post script!
After I had this post ready to launch, we spent the day in Hanalei. There is a t-shirt shop in Hanalei that I knew was very supportive of KHS. We stopped in…
Marlana Schaefer and her sister own this shop. I had remembered that Marlana had attempted to help me find a home for Skye. What I hadn’t remembered was that on my suggestion, Marlana had rescued Jager from KHS so many years ago… NINE to be exact. He is still happily living with her! It was such wonderful news!
Marlana was kind enough to send me this very recent photo of her and Jager, as well as Jager with Gracie, rescued 5 years ago. A lady after my own heart!
Additionally, Marlana told me that no fewer than four different people had tried to find an environment where Skye could thrive. Apparently, no one was successful, which lead to the unfortunate decision to euthanize him. It still makes me very sad, but it is much easier to swallow when I understand that he had so many chances.
Next week I’ll finish my series about Kauai by discussing horseback riding options and the cost of owning horses on the island. Aloha!