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"Paws and Reflect" by Maui Humane Society

January 19, 2011 - Mark Vieth
The Maui Humane Society is excited to introduce a new bi-weekly column to keep the community informed about animal-related issues on our island. We’re starting today by taking TWICE our usual space to answer some common questions about MHS:

MHS is a private, nonprofit organization. The County of Maui contracts us to provide certain animal management services for the community, but MHS provides many other services and programs that are funded solely through private donations, grants, and fundraising. MHS is not a government agency and is not affiliated with or funded by any other organization, such as the Humane Society of the U.S. Our agency undergoes an annual financial audit by an independent CPA firm and for the past few years has passed with flying colors.

A volunteer (unpaid) Board of Directors oversees the governance of MHS. Daily operations are carried out by our CEO and a dedicated staff of nearly 40 employees. Working for an animal welfare agency is not easy, and MHS employees are incredibly strong and compassionate people. They deal with a roller coaster of stressful, emotional situations on a regular basis—people who are grieving, angry, critical, grateful. Animals that are injured, confused, frightened, excited. It is often a thankless job, and it’s easy for burnout and discouragement to set in. We hope you will encourage and thank our employees for the work they do.

The work of MHS is complex and diverse, including sheltering unwanted animals, providing low-cost spay/neuter programs, promoting humane education, operating pet adoption and lost & found programs, investigating cruelty, responding to public calls for assistance, and much, much more. There are other animal agencies on Maui, some “no-kill.” We appreciate their efforts and partner with them whenever possible for the good of Maui’s animals. We, too, would love to someday be a “no-kill” shelter, however the sheer volume of unwanted animals on Mauicurrently makes that impossible. When our shelter is full, we do not have the option to turn animals away. Our doors are always open to the animals, however many there are.

Euthanasia is one of the most difficult and emotional issues for those of us at MHS. We love animals and rejoice at every life saved and every animal adopted into a loving, lifelong home. But there are thousands of homeless animals on Maui and limited space at our shelter. This is a community issue. Until every person on our island acts responsibly, refusing to let their pets breed, refusing to abandon them, treating them with respect and kindness, we will continue to be here for Maui’s unwanted animals. For some of these precious creatures, our shelter staff and volunteers offer the first human kindness they have ever experienced. Every animal at our shelter is spayed/neutered before adoption (it’s mandatory), and there is no maximum time limit at the shelter. We keep healthy, tame animals as long as we possibly can—sometimes for several months—in hopes that they will be adopted. But when there is simply no more room, sadly some animals are euthanized to make room for others.

We have made great progress in recent years to reduce the number of animals euthanized through increased adoption and spay/neuter programs, treating sick/injured animals, and the Trap-Neuter-Return program for feral cats. Now, the majority of animals euthanized at MHS have untreatable health issues or were not tame enough for adoption (such as feral cats and chickens, or dogs with extensive bite histories). We just released the Annual Report for our last fiscal year, and here are our most current statistics: last year, MHS staff responded to 11,195 calls from the community; our vet staff performed 3,058 on-site spay/neuter surgeries; 8,872 animals came through our shelter; 71% of the dogs were released alive; 13% of the dogs euthanized were healthy, adoptable animals who did not find homes; 23% of all cats were released alive, with the vast majority of those euthanized being feral cats that were unclaimed, not part of a managed colony, and not tame enough for adoption; only 1% of healthy, tame cats were euthanized last year. Overall, more dogs and cats were adopted, and 819 FEWER animals were euthanized compared to the previous year. Thank you for helping us save those lives!

We are making headway, but it is our ultimate goal that someday there will be no unwanted or mistreated animals on Maui. We cannot achieve this alone. Be part of the solution. Spay/neuter your pet. Adopt a pet (or two) from MHS. Support our programs. Be kind to your animals. Visit our web site for more details on how you can get involved. Or stop by the shelter on Mokulele Hwy, open 7 days a week.

This column is sponsored by private donations. If you or your business are interested in sponsoring a future column, please contact us at


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