PUHI — Mia Bug Breath was the first of 657 patients to go through Kauai Humane Society’s doors last week, during Animal Balance’s Mobile Animal Sterilization Hospital Clinic.
She belongs to Alfred “Darrel” Caley, who is houseless on Kauai and took advantage of the free MASH Clinic to alter and deworm his dog.
“He was the first person here and he didn’t have an appointment,” said Emma Clifford, executive director of Animal Balance. “He waited around through the whole process, and couldn’t have been more grateful.”
Caley was among a wide range of people who took advantage of the MASH Clinic from Sept. 18 – 23, according to Scott Pisani, executive director of the Kauai Humane Society, which hosted the event.
“We had folks drive down from the North Shore with their purebred dogs, we had hunting dogs that were altered, we had cats that had been trapped brought here to be altered,” Pisani said. “So many folks in the community came out.”
Basil Scott, head of Kauai Community Cat Project, visited the clinic on three different days, and said he knows hundreds of people who took advantage of the event.
“It costs tens of thousands of dollars for Animal Balance to bring vets and supplies,” Pisani said. “It was a huge gift to the Kauai community.”
Clifford and her Animal Balance team arrived on Kauai with the goal of doing 100 surgeries every day for six days, ending with 600 surgeries completed by the end of the clinic.
Connecting to the community was another goal of the team, which hopes to make a return trip to Kauai as soon as it’s financially possible.
In every way, the MASH Clinic exceeded those expectations, and not just in terms of numbers.
“Everyone was so friendly and sweet, asking how they can help next time and when we are coming back,” Clifford said.
It’s not a matter of if Animal Balance comes back to Kauai to host another clinic, it’s when, according to Clifford and Pisani, and both KHS and AB are working to gather money for another clinic.
“We’re writing grant proposals to find the funds, but we also need help from the community,” Clifford said.
She suggests contacting county council members and asking them for another MASH Clinic.
“It would help show that there is a need,” Clifford said. “If they (potential funders) know that it’s important for the community, then we’ll have much more ease coming back.”
And while Clifford and her team are busy writing grant proposals, they’re also going over the notes they took during the first MASH Clinic and incorporating community feedback into the next campaign.
“We listened to what everyone told us while they were waiting at the check-in, and we made notes so we can make suggestions on what can be done to get the animals fixed,” Clifford said.
Accessibility seems to be the biggest barrier, according to initial feedback, with traffic playing a big role.
“When we come back, we’d like to set up in a community center and serve the people in that community so they don’t have to drive,” Clifford said. “We’re also going to focus on community cats next time.”
Currently, there are 250 rust-proof transfer cages and 250 humane cat traps that were shipped courtesy of Alley Cat Allies, awaiting Animal Balance’s return.
That’s encouraging for Scott, who said KCCP is looking forward to helping with the next campaign.
“We are eager to partner with Animal Balance in the future and will likely team up with Kauai humane to do so. We anticipate working with Scott Pisani to figure out how to best focus our effort,” he said.
He continued: “There have been so many issues around cats on Kauai. I think Animal Balance gives Kauai a positive path forward, and we look forward to participating.”
Pisani said he’s looking forward to partnership with KCCP and Animal Balance as well.
“This was an opportunity for people to step up and do something good,” Pisani said. “This has been an area filled with controversy, and it represented a positive move forward.”