PUHI — Scott Pisani has experience implementing new programs within an organization, and has some ideas for the Kauai Humane Society.
“My role as director is to leverage the passionate people in the community, the passionate people that work for us, and our volunteers and come up with solutions that can have the greatest positive impact,” Pisani said.
But the new director of Kauai Humane society, who moved to Waimea with his wife Christina in November, wants to get to know the island community better before he just starts changing things around.
“It’s really important that we look at our solutions as community-based, rather than the organization itself making a decision about what’s best for this community,” he said.
Background in financial services
Pisani hails from Phoenix, Arizona, where he began his career in animal welfare a little more than five years ago in the Arizona Humane Society admissions department.
He moved to an animal welfare career after successfully navigating the financial services industry, working the last couple of years for Bank of America.
“I’d been successful, but that’s not what I was passionate about,” Pisani said. “I took some time off and decided to work in animal welfare.”
Volunteering with the Arizona Humane Society turned into a full-time job after Pisani realized working with the organization aligned with the goals he had for the community.
“It was just natural,” Pisani said.
After some time at the front desk taking in animals, Pisani was promoted to adoptions manager and then became the director of animal services. His last role was vice president over medical and field operations for Arizona Humane Society.
He and his wife visited Kauai for their honeymoon a year and a half ago and knew they’d found somewhere they could call home. When the job at KHS opened up, they jumped on the opportunity.
Pisani’s experience in financial services and management accelerated his career in animal welfare. He says it’s because he’s working with a similar goal.
“With financial services, you’ve got a limited amount of resources and you’re trying to maximize the profit,” he said. “With animal welfare, you have a limited amount of resources and you’re maximizing the impact.”
Emotion and compassion have their place within animal welfare, he acknowledged, but “using solid strategic thinking can be very impactful in a non-profit world.”
Balancing the priorities of an open-intake shelter with the finite number of homes for animal placement is a priority for Pisani. He said he’d be figuring out ways “to potentially save more lives.”
KHS does have an animal control contract with Kauai County, so those duties will still be carried out by the entity, but Pisani is looking for innovative programs that will result in less euthanasia.
One challenge Pisani acknowledged is the limited number of households available for adoption; he said opening up more potential homes could save more lives.
“We need to find positive locations for our animals to go before we can really figure out how to save the ones that right now are unfortunately being euthanized,” Pisani said.
Bottle baby nursery
When it comes to the euthanasia of young kittens, Pisani said the solution would definitely have to come from the community because KHS doesn’t have the resources to support bottle babies in a nursery.
That’s because bottle babies — or kittens under four weeks old that haven’t yet been weaned — have to be fed every two to four hours.
“The bottle baby nursery is extremely resource intensive and can quickly pull resources from other animals in the shelter that need to be saved,” Pisani said.
But he’s looking for options when it comes to kittens.
“There are some things that can be done and if there are members of the community that are passionate, we can find ways to save these animals,” Pisani said. “It’s important that KHS be thought of as the leaders to try and figure out opportunities for people to participate.”
An example of welcome community involvement would be setting up a volunteer nursery for bottle babies where the resources necessary to run it would be shared in partnership with KHS. Fostering bottle babies in community homes is another option Pisani is willing to consider.
“We don’t need to feel like we have to take on the solutions ourselves; it’s about the community,” Pisani said. “If you feel like KHS is the only solution, that’s where it can result in going straight to euthanasia.”
Conversations before changes
Pisani has experience rolling out various programs at Arizona Humane Society, including an open adoptions program, but he’s hoping for as much community feedback as possible before any implementation.
“I’d expect over the coming months and years we’ll do the same thing at KHS,” Pisani said. “But my first couple of months, I’ve been listening to our community and the staff and trying to learn about the particular environment we have here.”
The transfer program, which moves animals to shelters on the Mainland, is something he’d like to see expand in the future.
Kauai is a place where the community is dynamic, the people are authentic, and there are many different perspectives in play, Pisani said, and all of those perspectives must be considered.
“People care at a level that perhaps you don’t get in other communities,” he said. “It’s very important that we be thoughtful about how and what programs we roll out and the changes we make to represent the community the best we can.”
His goal is to use information and feedback garnered to develop and tweak programs so they’ll best serve the community.
“We want to make sure we meet the needs of the community and be transparent and communicative,” Pisani said. “You really have to work and find out what makes sense for the community.”