Fixing the problem

PUHI — When a fluffy, striped cat appeared at Derek Drenske’s house in Puhi, he and his family took her in without hesitation.

But one turned into five within weeks.

“Almost immediately she had a litter,” Drenske said. “She had four kittens.”

He was already planning to have the striped cat sterilized, but with the spike in the number of felines at his house and the closure of the Kauai Humane Society spay and neuter clinic, it was too expensive.

While he was figuring out his next step, Drenske ran into Scott Pisani, of Kauai Humane Society, who told him about the Mobile Animal Sterilization Clinic happening this week at KHS.

It’s through the nonprofit organization Animal Balance, which his brought five veterinarians and other volunteers to sterilize at least 600 animals — at no charge to the community — in six days.

“We wanted to get her (the striped cat) fixed,” Drenske said. “When I heard about this, I thought I’d wait and get involved. It’s good to have.”

The MASH Clinic started Monday and volunteers did 116 surgeries on the first day; 104 sterilizations were done on Tuesday and Wednesday the team did 97 surgeries. That totals to 317 surgeries since Monday.

“The Kauai community has really come out for this,” Pisani said. “It’s proved a real demand. The families of Kauai need these services.”

While this week’s MASH Clinic is focused on owned animals and taking care of Kauai’s pets, some spots on the register were set aside for community cats from Kauai Community Cat Project.

“It’s really great, and it’s going to the heart of the problem,” said Basil Scott, head of KCCP, who stopped by the MASH Clinic on Wednesday. “It’s helping everyone and it’s a good thing.”

Hundreds of people on Kauai have decided to bring their animals into KHS for sterilization through the MASH Clinic, but Kauai has come out to support the event in many other ways as well, according to Animal Balance executive director, Emma Clifford.

“Local vets have shown up to help,” Clifford said. “That camaraderie with the visiting and local veterinarians has been amazing to watch. We’ve never experienced that before, in any of the other places we’ve been.”

Long-term, the goal is still to re-open the KHS sterilization clinic and resume offering low cost sterilizations for Kauai’s animals, according to Pisani.

In addition, he wants to continue having MASH Clinics with Animal Balance on periodically Kauai.

Statewide, Animal Balance has started creating a database to connect everyone in Hawaii that wants to volunteer as they host MASH Clinics on different islands.

“We’ve called it the Animal Warrior Database and all volunteers on all the islands can sign up to help with any of the clinics we’re doing,” Clifford said.

Though the MASH Clinic on Kauai is free of charge, Pisani said they’ve been receiving donations from grateful community members, and those donations are being set aside for more MASH Clinics on Kauai.

“So those donations aren’t being used for KHS or anything else, we’re setting them aside to help pay for the next clinic,” Pisani said. “We’re hoping it’ll be in the next few months.”

In the future, Clifford said the community can help with feeding and housing the team, as well as donating toward supplies.

“It’s been emotional. I’ve been at the front everyone is treating their animals as family,” she said. “They can take care of them and that’s a win-win.”

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