PUHI — Emma Clifford’s mission is to help maintain cat and dog populations in island communities.
And the executive director of Animal Balance is on Kauai for the next week with a team of 16 people — including five veterinarians — to do 600 spay and neuter surgeries in six days.
The supplies are paid for by a PetCo Foundation grant and the Animal Balance volunteers donated their time. Kauai Humane Society is hosting the Mobile Animal Sterilization (MASH) Clinic and has paid for the team’s lodging.
“We’re focusing on owned cats and dogs, and Kauai Community Cat Project will bring some of their cats, too,” she said.
Clifford continued: “Next time when we come back, we want to focus more on community cats, but right now it’s about helping people.”
Koloa Rum donated space in a container for shipping 200 cat traps and they’re being prepped at KHS.
“It’s been a beautiful coming together of the community already,” Clifford said. “We’ll use the cat traps when we come back the next time.”
Animal Balance’s first project was in the Galapagos Islands, where an over-expanded population of cats and dogs was being exterminated through poisoned meat left in the streets.
“It was too much of a danger to non-target species,” Clifford said. “So we came in and showed them a more targeted and more humane approach.”
Animal Balance altered as many community animals as they could, gave leashes and collars to people who took them into their homes, and offered free dog training classes.
“We reduced the cat and dog population and the local people loved it,” Clifford said. “That’s what happened there, and we mold to fit the situation, work with the community.”
Starting Monday at 8:30 a.m., Animal Balance’s volunteers will team up with those from the community to cycle through about 100 surgeries every day. KHS staff will be working alongside Animal Balance volunteers, swapping knowledge.
“With Animal Balance being able to consult with us on the clinic, our hope is they’d be able to provide some outside-the-box thinking,” said Scott Pisani, KHS executive director.
Thursday, the two teams were already working together, learning new techniques while working on some of the animals already on deck at KHS.
Those interested in learning how to trap cats to be sterilized and released where they were trapped — known as TNR — can attend a seminar today and get info on the practice. Registration is preferred for that seminar, according to an Animal Balance press release.
Sunday, beginning at noon, community volunteers will be brought up to speed on the plan for the week during an orientation.
While the influx in surgeries from the Animal Balance MASH Clinic will help with the overall need for affordable spay and neuter surgeries on the island, Pisani said he knows it’s not the final solution.
“Everyone is interested in us getting the clinic going again, and we’re passionate about getting it done as well,” Pisani said. “This is supplementary to our normal clinic.”
The ultimate goal is to have the KHS spay and neuter clinic back up and running, alongside regular MASH Clinics from Animal Balance.
“Staffing is still the challenge, the same challenges on the veterinary technician side and the customer service side,” Pisani said. “We’re trying to be inventive on that.”
Animal Balance is on board with offering any help it can, Clifford said, and the goal is to have another MASH Clinic as soon as money is secured.
“We do need the community to come out, show up and make this a success so we can get funding to come back soon,” Clifford said.
While there are many who’ve stepped up to the plate already, Pisani said the MASH Clinic could use more volunteers.
“There are all kinds of tasks that need to be done,” Pisani said. “There’s the support for the medical side, like prepping for surgery. There’s also things like registration and check-outs.”
To volunteer, contact Owen Strong, community service manager at KHS: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To sign up for TNR training, contact Animal Balance at email@example.com.
To sign up for an appointment for a cat or dog to be altered, call 632-0610 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.