PUHI — If numbers can tell a story, they have a lot to say about the past fiscal year of the Kauai Humane Society.
But they’re not the whole story.
KHS has gotten its feet underneath it this past fiscal year, said executive director Penny Cistaro.
“This past year and a half has been more about program development and growth,” she said.
First, the numbers.
KHS’s intake numbers dipped 20 percent, from 3,698 animals to 2,974. And adoptions followed that trend, taking a 17 percent plunge from 793 animals to 657.
For cats, the owner surrender intake number dropped 46 percent — 176 cats to 95 this past fiscal year. Dog owner surrenders fell from 451 to 317, a 28 percent decline.
Stray dog intake numbers dropped 19 percent; from 1,119 to 902. Stray cat intake numbers also fell 19 percent — from 1,963 to 1,661.
All of which led to fewer animals being put down.
Euthanasia numbers for cats dropped 26 percent from 1,607 to 1,183 this past fiscal year, and euthanasia numbers for dogs dropped from 438 to 307, a 30 percent decline.
“Feral cats and unweaned kittens make up the largest portion of that,” Cistaro said of the euthanasia numbers.
An area of growth is the mobile spay and neuter clinic, which is adding another location, bringing it to four. In addition to St. William Catholic Church in Hanalei, St. Catherine Catholic Church in Kapaa and KHS’s main location, the newest site is Nana’s House in Waimea.
This past fiscal year, KHS was able to spay or neuter 785 adoption animals, 573 feral cats, and 1,113 of the public’s animals at those locations.
Cistaro said the spay/neuter program was able to expand because a combination of donor and grant money secured the shelter another set of surgery equipment. Now one set of equipment stays at KHS and the other moves with the mobile spay/neuter clinic.
In addition, Cistaro said, “We recently started the food bank there and will be expanding it with the mobile spay/neuter (clinic).”
The program requires people to have their pets spayed or neutered before benefiting from the food bank, so having a mobile clinic on site makes it a one-stop shop.
The microchip program has also been making some impacts on the island; Cistaro credits that program with the 15 percent increase in the number of cats returned to their owners, up 19 from 129 the previous fiscal year to 148 last fiscal year.
Also, the passage of the barking dog law was a victory for KHS. Cistaro said enforcement of the ordinance hasn’t been as difficult as it appeared and that educating those violating the ordinance has been the main task.
“With a specific position for (enforcement), we’re able to make contact with the dog owner,” Cistaro said. “We haven’t had to issue any citations yet.”
Cistaro said the 43 staff members and around 200 volunteers at KHS stepped up to the plate this fiscal year.
“There’s always turnover in any organization, but we’ve stabilized and now we have more structure, and a good management team,” Cistaro said. “It’s been a year of internal growth and staff development.”
Esther Rivera, outreach and client service manager, said she’s definitely seen growth in the staff.
“When I started a few years ago it felt more divided, now everybody is working together and it’s becoming more of a team, more of a family unit,” Rivera said. “Everybody vibes together and there’s been a lot more communication.”
Rivera balances her time managing outreach and client services with being a humane officer, and has been a customer service representative as well.
She said a change that’s making a big difference is monthly staff meetings, during which employees get a chance to learn new skills.
Mary Zakula, direct release representative for KHS, said she’s happy with Cistaro’s leadership and direction.
“I’m the oldest person here and I can pick out a good leader,” Zakula said. “We needed someone with her experience and her background in order to get things to start coming together.”
Uniform policies and printed handbooks have been good additions to internal operations, Zakula said.
“It makes it more comfortable for everybody if we are all going in the same direction,” Zakula said.
In addition to new fundraisers and community activities, Cistaro said KHS will focus on finding a solution to the large feral cat population on the island, taking into account the prevalence of endangered birds.
Pets in rental housing is another issue Cistaro would like to take on in the upcoming fiscal year.
“Moving is the No. 1 reason people drop off their pets,” Cistaro said. The inability to have “pets in rental housing is a big issue.”
Overall, Cistaro said KHS is staying above water, though it faces “the same challenges every humane society has” as far as funding, and is always accepting donations.
“We aren’t losing money at this point in time,” Cistaro said. “And it’s the fact that people are supporting our programs.”