Don’t wait, celebrate

The name of the Kauai Humane Society’s Saturday fundraiser is fitting: “Paws for Celebration.”

Because there is much to celebrate.

Hundreds of dogs and cats have been adopted through April of this year, fewer are coming into the shelter, fewer are being euthanized and a transfer program that sends pets to the Mainland “is going gangbusters.”

It all adds up to more pets finding homes.

“We’re making some real progress,” said Penny Cistaro, KHS executive director. “It’s slow, but it’s steady.”

People are noticing, based on the number of tickets sold for the annual event that begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Kauai Resort.

Already, 300 have been snapped up, with only about 25 remaining. So if you want to go, today might just be your last chance at a ticket.

Paws for Celebration, organized by KHS director of development Laura Lee, will include dinner, live and silent auctions — one fun auction item will be the chance for someone’s canine to be the poster dog for next year’s KHS “Fast and Furriest” event — and music by award-winning slack key guitarist Makana. KQNG radio personality Ron Wiley will be the emcee. Veterinarian Dr. Scott Sims will receive the humanitarian of the year award.

Last year, it netted $85,000 to help with KHS operations. It is the nonprofit’s largest fundraiser.

“The community just comes out in full support of this. It’s amazing,” Cistaro said.

Good things are happening at KHS, where 275 volunteers make life better for cats, dogs and other critters.

Through April, 676 animals were adopted, about the same as last year, and another 301 were sent to the Mainland to be adopted, up from 205 through April 2014.

The number of animals coming to the shelter, 3,121 through the first four months of the year, was down 5 percent from 3,287 last year.

Euthanasias through April totaled 1,845, down 10 percent from 2,048 last year.

In the past five years, Cistaro said the number of animals coming to KHS has decreased 50 percent. And over that same five years, the number of animals spayed and neutered at KHS is over 15,000, which is key to reducing the homeless pet population.

“Every year we’re chipping away at it,” Penny said.

KHS offers an array of services for pet owners. It is seeing success with its pet food bank, its pet behavior help line, dog training course, its low-cost vaccination program and its field trip program that gets shelter dogs out of their kennels for a day and puts them in the public eye.

A group of runners and walkers is exercising dogs Sunday mornings.

KHS plans to operate an adoption program with Petco when it opens later this year and its mobile adoption unit will become more visible in the community, too.

It wants to expand its spay and neuter program to six days a week from five, and needs $20,000 to set up its mobile outreach spay and neuter vehicle.

Cistaro credits the community for responding to the need of the island’s homeless pet population and supporting Paws for Celebration

“People have really stepped up,” she said.

Tickets are $95 each and may still be available today at http://kauaihumane.org or call (808) 632-0610.

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Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.

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