LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i Humane Society (KHS) is currently operating on a short-term contract with the County of Kaua‘i that is extending the Fiscal Year 2020 services through August, and is providing more time for the two entities to negotiate their contract for the FY 2021.
KHS has extended its contract to the end of August and said they could not disclose details of their negotiation at this time.
FY 2020 has been transformative for KHS, as they’ve pivoted their procedures to accommodate new practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of transfers of animals to the mainland U.S., for instance, was at 510 in FY 2020, down from 648 in the last fiscal year because transfers stopped in March due to the pandemic.
Executive Director Mirah Horowitz said transfers haven’t completed stopped but they are barely happening. In June FY2019 they had 53 transfers, compared to 1 transfer in June FY 2020.
KHS has faced some airline challenges during the pandemic but with Hawaiian Airlines they were able to find a solution.
Horowitz said between 1/3 to 1/2 of their animals found their forever homes in the mainland but currently, there are no nonstop flights from Kaua‘i to the mainland that will take their pets in cargo.
“Our only option is to fly them via Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines,” said Horowitz. “But, due to demand, Hawaiian limits humane societies to reservations only four days before travel so we’re rarely able to secure places. This particularly difficult given how many cats and kittens we have at the shelter and how desperate we are to find them homes.”
With an extended month to go in their contract with the County of Kaua‘i, KHS has dropped their euthanasia numbers from 1001 in FY 2019 to 358 in FY2020, a 64% drop in euthanasia numbers.
In FY2020, KHS had 2,254 intakes and 932 adoptions, with243 surrender dogs, 211 owner surrender cats, 893 stray dogs, and 1007 stray cats.
During COVID-19, KHS was only taking in emergencies and not their normal intakes. And because people stayed home during the pandemic there were a lot less lost dogs.
The breakdown percentage of animals that went through KHS in the FY 2020 is as follows: dog live release rate is 96%, cat live release rate is 70%, and shelter (a combination of both dogs and cats) total is at 80%.
Currently, it’s a full house at KHS, with 136 cats and 45 dogs at the shelter that need foster parents and forever homes, and KHS has moved much of the foster and adoption process online to accommodate pandemic rules and social distancing. The process starts with an online questionnaire that matches humans with an animal that fits their situation.
Horowitz said the process has proven to be better for both the community, for the animals, and for KHS.
“It allows us to do a better job matching adopters with dogs and cats because we spend time getting to know what they’re (community members) looking for before they arrive at the shelter,” said Horowitz.
Other changes include KHS’s vaccine clinics, which have been modified and are now a drive-up, so people won’t need to step foot into their facility. KHS has also expanded its food bank efforts.
“We want to be sure that no one is forced to surrender a pet because they cannot afford food during this time,” said Horowitz.
KHS is particularly looking for fosters for cats and kittens, but foster families are needed for as many of the animals at the shelter as possible.
“Our community has been great in terms of stepping up to adopt, but there are still more animals in need,” said Horowitz. “The best way to start the foster or adoption process is to visit the KHS website and follow instructions from there.”
Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.