The Kauai County Council’s unanimous decision Wednesday to require an audit of the Kauai Humane Society is a good one. It will, hopefully, do one of two things: Indicate KHS and its executive director Penny Cistaro are doing a good job and the nonprofit is operating just as it should be, or the problems alleged by critics and some former employees are as they have said and it’s time for changes.
In other words, this audit could answer some of the questions, once and for all, raised since a report outlining concerns of some employees regarding animal treatment was presented to the KHS board in May and there was a call to remove Cistaro from her post.
The independent audit, expected to cost about $75,000, will look at internal controls and issues.
It will be limited to services that are funded by the $760,000 that KHS receives from the county. The audit should be welcomed all around.
Because what happens at KHS deals with the life and death of thousands of dogs and cats each year, this is an emotional issue. If you aren’t convinced people don’t get fired up over what happens to animals, just check out the outcry since a Minnesota dentist, for sport, killed a popular lion in Africa named Cecil. Or simply watch the public outrage and reaction over almost any national animal abuse case.
So when the conversation turns to the operations of KHS, which is a kill shelter and euthanizes animals, there are strong feelings. This paper has already shared its opinion that Cistaro and KHS are doing a good job in difficult conditions. It is the only shelter on an island where hundreds of dogs are abandoned and surrendered each year, and where thousands of feral cats are roaming the landscape.
Euthanization, sadly, is a necessary part of the equation in the current system. The KHS board has made it clear it backs Cistaro and the job she has done since arriving about two and a half years ago.
Others disagree. They say KHS too routinely puts animals down when there are other options that could be and should be considered. They will argue that the desire to save money — KHS had $2.6 million in total revenue and support for the fiscal year ending June 2014 — is guiding decisions that are detrimental to the lives of pets.
What’s clear, is that it’s imperative for the sides to come together, if that’s possible, for the sake of animals that wind up at the Kauai Humane Society shelter. If donations to KHS decline because of the recent disagreements that have very much gone public, it’s the canines and cats there that will suffer most.
We hope that’s not the case. And we hope that whatever the outcome of this audit, the results satisfy all sides, even unite this community, to rally behind common efforts to provide the best care for Kauai’s animals and put those that wind up at KHS into loving homes.