It’s unfortunate Scott Pisani has resigned after only one year as executive director of the Kauai Humane Society and his last day on the job will be later this month. In his short time leading the animal-service organization, Pisani did a fine job. He was committed to the welfare of the animals, improving programs and services and raising awareness of the need for personal responsibility when it comes to caring for pets. He was clearly someone who loved animals and wanted to do what he could, as director, to care for them and find them homes.
We particularly appreciated his efforts to establish a good working relationship with the community. Pisani came into a situation where some people had lost trust in KHS. Some donors were hesitant to give until they saw that trust restored. Pisani was working in that direction and gaining ground. He was always friendly, eager to talk about KHS and welcome to hearing about new ideas and better ways to do things.
A year, though, is not enough time to get established in such a job. It takes a while to create those necessary contacts and foster that relationship to earn continued support. That’s why we wish Pisani had stayed longer. The quick turnover of such a key position is bad for the organization and, worse, it’s bad for the animals.
Pisano declined to disclose the reasons for resigning, but it must have been a difficult decision and one that came after much thought and consideration. He and his wife like Kauai. There must have been some serious obstacles that could not be overcome.
We don’t know what led to the split between Pisani and the KHS board, but we do know that both have the welfare of animals at heart. KHS Board President Diann Hartman is as committed as anyone, likely more committed, to caring for pets and trying to place them in homes. She does not get paid for being the board president. It is a volunteer post.
The KHS executive director is, we have long said, one of the most difficult positions on this island. It’s not just the managing of people and a budget. It’s not just recruiting and keeping volunteers. It’s not just working well with a board of directors. It’s not just communicating well with the public. And It’s not just raising money, which is usually the top priority of any director of a nonprofit.
It’s a job where you are making life-and-death decisions on dogs and cats that arrive daily at the shelter. How do they get there? Some are surrendered. Some are abandoned. Some are dumped off. Some were neglected, some were abused. Some are left by loving owners who could no longer care for them due to a variety of factors. But some won’t find homes. Some will die there.
The shelter has limited space. It recently took in nearly 100 dogs over a short period of time. It’s generally operating with kennels and other holding areas filled with dogs and cats. Frankly, it’s sad that so many pets wind up without homes and KHS is left to do the job others would not. Some argue KHS should be a no-kill shelter. It would certainly be wonderful if no pets had to be euthanized. No one that we know of wants to see animals put down. Most people would rather they have a nice, loving home. But not everyone does something to achieve that goal. That’s where this community can make a difference. We can take on responsibility for our pets instead of giving that responsibility to the humane society. We can be better pet owners. We can volunteer at KHS. We can adopt a dog or cat. Yes, we are aware finding a rental that will allow pets is a challenge, which is why we urge landlords to allow pets.
While some may see Pisani’s resignation as a sign that the organization is in disarray and all the more reason to not support KHS, we would argue the opposite. We would argue this is the time to donate. This is the time to volunteer. This is the time to adopt. This is the time to get involved. If you don’t like what’s going on, don’t be one of those people who criticizes KHS but does nothing to help. We all know it’s easy to stand on the sidelines and complain and point out what others are doing wrong. What takes more courage is donating your time and talent to helping others who could benefit from it. Make that change you want to see.
We believe the board of directors is committed to the mission of Kauai Humane Society. It may not please everyone all the time. It may struggle to find success. But its heart is true. When Pisani leaves, Orrie Skomoroch will take leave from the board of directors to provide interim leadership as the board searches for a qualified individual for the position of executive director. Orrie is sharp. Consider her experience. She has served on the board of directors for several years and has an impressive resume and extensive background in facilities management and administration. Before her retirement, she served as interim chief operating officer for Kikiaola Land Company. Prior to that, Orrie was the regional chief executive officer of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.
We don’t envy Skomoroch’s challenge that is ahead directing KHS.
Finding a new director won’t be easy, but the right person is out there. It is up to the board to find him or her. They might already live here. And hopefully, once hired, they will stay — a long time.
We encourage people to support the Kauai Humane Society. The dogs and cats there are counting on you. Please do what you can during this transition time.