KAPAHI — Benji loves belly rubs. And he doesn’t stray too far away from Tanya Bordenkircher, the Kapaa woman who has taken him in — along with seven other dogs, four birds, more than 20 cats and a seahorse.
“It’s crazy around here,” Bordenkircher said of her house in Kapahi, which is also home to Tanya’s Animal Rescue, “but this is what we do.”
Last week, Bordenkircher got a phone call from someone in Hanalei. They’d found a little dog with big ears stuck in a bush.
“So we went over there and we got him,” Bordenkircher said.
Bordenkircher said she’s not sure if someone intentionally abandoned the dog, or if he’s just lost.
“He’s not overly skinny or anything,” Bordenkircher said. “But he does stick close beside you like he’s been abandoned.”
Bordenkircher, her husband and their six kids have also fostered rats, pigs and goats at their home. Everyone that’s rescued gets a microchip and neutered or spayed, and medical care if it’s needed.
With all those animals, everyone has to pitch in.
“The kids all clean litter boxes and everyone has chores to do,” she said.
The upstart shelter began three years ago when two black kittens were found by some landscapers on the Westside while mowing a lawn.
“The kittens were deaf and blind still, they were really young, so that was actually a good thing,” Bordenkircher said. “They were in a little dip in the ground and the landscapers heard their little meows.”
The kittens were deposited at the front desk of a hotel and eventually made their way to Bordenkircher’s doorstep.
“I don’t remember exactly how, but I got a phone call and I said, sure, bring them by,” she said.
Now, she gets phone calls regularly, and her family makes it their mission to watch out for Kauai’s animals — especially the little guys like cats, dogs and birds.
“I usually don’t take in adults, because they tend to fight, and I have limited space right now, but you never know,” Bordenkircher said.
Larger animals sometimes cross paths with the Bordenkircher family.
Two weeks ago, for instance, they got a phone call about a baby goat that had been missing for three days. They immediately set off on a search.
“I was walking along the fence and I heard it and so I jumped over the fence and ran through this field and I found it in a hole,” said Erica Bordenkircher, 14. “It was stuck in there so we got it out.”
The goat is now at a friend’s farm with several other rescued goats.
“Some of the animals that we have are up for adoption,” Bordenkircher said.
Eventually, Bordenkircher plans to form a nonprofit organization. She’s currently researching the idea, but for now she accepts donations for things like building cathouses and food for the animals.
She is also open to volunteers.
“If anyone wants to come down and hang out with the dogs or clean the cat boxes, they’re welcome,” Bordenkircher said. “Or maybe even take one of the dogs for a walk.”