KHS traps record number of dogs

The Kauai Humane Society this September had a 62 percent increase in the number of lost or stray dogs returned to their owners, compared to the same time last year.

This September, 91 lost and stray dogs were brought into the Kauai Humane Society, and 44 were returned to their owners – a 62 percent increase from the year before.

From July 2001 – June 2002, the KHS investigated 153 reports of animal cruelty or neglect, assisted 94 injured animals, and picked up more than 2,500 lost or abandoned animals. Numbers weren’t yet available for October, but about 75-90 dogs and about 300 cats wind up at the KHS each month.

“Returning animals to their owners” is the most rewarding part of his job, said shelter manager Jason Oune.

Executive Director Rebecca Rhoades, DVM, said that moving from Hanapepe to a new shelter location in Puhi is just part of the increase in animals returned to their families.

The new, $3 million facility is much larger and was built in a central location clearly visible from Kaumuali’i Highway. Extended hours, friendly staffers and a modern facility have made it convenient and welcoming, Rhoades added.

Rhoades and Oune agree that people need to be educated on how to take care of their animals.

“I think it has to do with talking about the Pet Spay-Neuter and I.D. Program, we’ve talked about tags and microchips. It’s starting to pay off,” she said.

Oune, who has been with the KHS since 1995, said their efforts in education have had an effect – fewer dead animals along the roadways and fewer strays.

During last week’s “National Shelter Appreciation Week” the Kauai Humane Society continued to provide pet adoptions; spaying/neutering; animal control; and educational tours. Open for 50 years, the organization’s goal is to provide care and services in the best interests of animals and animal owners of the community.

Through the Community Pet Spay-Neuter and I.D. Program, people feeding wild cats can get the procedure done for free to keep those cats from multiplying.

People can get their pets “fixed” for free if they have low income or are on a public support program, though anyone with a pet may get a discount coupon for their veterinarian to complete the procedure. At the KHS, Dr. Dawn Akimoto performs the surgeries, with the help of several veterinary technicians.

Rabbits, cats and dogs can be adopted from the KHS, already spayed or neutered. All the pets available are healthy, vaccinated and come with a free collar and sack of pet food.

They also come with a rice-grain-sized “Avid-Chip” device, inserted under the skin between the animal’s shoulders. A digital handheld scanner, when waved over the area, displays a unique number that corresponds to the owner’s contact information in a computer database.

The educational aspect of the KHS starts with children. Groups of about 15 students from grades 2-5 at Island School come one day a week for six weeks to learn about how to take care of a pet – they feed, groom and clean out cages. They also watch educational videos.

The “B.A.R.K.” program (Be Aware, Responsible and Kind) teaches kids how to prevent dog attacks, and what to do if one happens. Many kids’ families end up adopting pets, said vet tech Lisa Donnan.

Volunteers, old and young, are welcomed at the shelter. People may volunteer as “dog buddies” or “cat cuddlers,” or front desk and clerical work. Some people can act as foster families for animals yet too young to be adopted.

Animal Control Officers, once called “dogcatchers,” help educate the community on how to comply with pet ownership laws, and issue citations if necessary.

It is against the leash law to let dogs loose in neighborhoods, unless you are watching it on your own property. If an animal wanders a little too far from home, ACOs are there to bring them to the shelter and try to get them back with their families.

Animals that aren’t being taken care of sometimes end up roaming around and causing problems for neighbors and other animals.

Whether it’s returning a lost pet or removing an animal causing a nuisance, helping people and putting a smile on someone’s face is the most rewarding part of his job, Animal Control Officer Steve Lizama said.

Last Friday afternoon, Lizama drove out to Ha’ena to catch the alleged ringleader of a “gang” of four or five dogs that have been chasing and biting horses kept in a nearby field.

Though he was unsuccessful, he did get “Pepper,” a friendly Pomeranian that’s part of the gang, to jump into the dog carrier in the back of his truck. Pepper’s owner was given ample warning and notice to comply, but still allowed him to run around the neighborhood.

Owners are given 24 hours to pick up lost animals. Pepper will be groomed, vaccinated and neutered so he can be adopted. Meanwhile, the owner may be cited and ordered to appear in court for neglecting to obey the leash law.

Also Friday afternoon, Lizama went to investigate a complaint regarding a Wailua Houselots dog that was chained to a truck all day and night and made to sleep in its feces.

A stop at the house showed that the dog didn’t have adequate shelter and its water bowl was overturned. Lizama sold the family a dog license and explained what to do to be in compliance with the state law against animal neglect. Also, he offered to sell them a dog kennel/carrier from the shelter at a reasonable price.

Keeping stray cats in check is another focus of the KHS. Holly, a Ha’ena resident, catches cats that roam near her house from a nearby field, with a trap she borrowed from the KHS.

“I can’t own a cat if I don’t get rid of these guys first,” Holly said. The stray cats have already established their territory and would attack her pets and possibly infect them with feline diseases. Trapping a stray cat is ten times better than doing like some people do – poison or shoot them, Holly said.

Adoption fees are $50 for a cat or dog and $20 for a rabbit. Check out vet’s offices and pet shops for photos of animals ready to be adopted, or look in the pet section of Wal-Mart, which has a pet bulletin board updated each week.

Dog licenses are available through the KHS and County of Kauai. Call 241-6303 for information. Dog tags are $1 for a spayed/neutered dog, $3 per year if not fixed.

Cat licenses are not needed, but microchips cost $5 at the KHS, or can be given at most veterinarians. Microchips are recommended for both dogs and cats.

The Kauai Humane Society is open Tuesdays – Fridays 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, please call 632-0610.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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