An EvoJets private charter departed from Lihu‘e Airport early Sunday morning with a very special passenger manifest. Apple, Olivander and Rigatoni were all on board when the Seattle-bound flight took off with 187 shelter animals — bringing 175 cats and 12 dogs about 2,700 miles closer to their forever homes.
Getting the animals off the island was an important step in getting them adopted.
“Currently (Kaua‘i Humane Society) has a population that is far beyond the capacity of the shelter,” Executive Director Nicole Crane said. “With the limited resident population in Kaua‘i we must look beyond our island for positive outcomes for our animals.”
Getting the animals into homes was a community effort.
KHS board members donated the $60,000 necessary for this unique rescue mission and, when it was announced that the animals would need traveling crates, 233 arrived by donation.
“It has been really overwhelming how much people have gotten behind us,” said Crane.
Prospective pet owners on the mainland also stepped up. Some of the animals will be transferred to partner shelters on the mainland, but the majority will be going directly into the homes of families who adopted them based on their online profiles.
Lynnette Row lives near Tacoma, Wash. She heard about the flight on social media and adopted four kittens. “I had a really hard time (choosing), because I really wanted all of them,” said Row.
Rebecca Sunnybrook adopted a blind cat named Alabama.
“I am so excited to get Alabama. His bubble capsule backpack is set to go too when he is ready to ‘see’ Seattle smells,” she posted on social media
Moving to a more-seasonal mainland will be an adjustment for the animals, but Crane expects they will do well, though “some might need sweaters in their new environment,” she said.
There was a huge demand for Kaua‘i’s cats and dogs. The flight could only accommodate 200 animals, so KHS was left with the heartbreaking task of turning away hundreds of interested adopters.
Shelter staff has been very appreciative of the outpouring of support.
“The staff is really grateful for adopters stepping up to take care of the animals,” Crane said. “It’s very exciting to be part of saving an animal’s life.”
Laurel Smith, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.