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Maui Humane Society and HARF offer advice to pet owners

By Staff | Apr 2, 2020

Our pets are vital and cherished members of our ohana, and we want to protect them.

These are unpredictable, unprecedented and frightening times; remain alert and keep your pets close.

In any and all cases, don’t panic; be informed.

Director Miyo Kim, D.V.M., is the director of shelter medicine for Maui Humane Society.

This is what she told the Lahaina News.

“Scientists don’t believe dogs can catch and subsequently transmit the novel Coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but experts advise being cautious about interacting with other people’s dogs and say people with COVID-19 should avoid contact with their own pets.

“According to Dr. Gail Golab, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) chief veterinary officer, the virus can live on smooth surfaces for hours or days, but pet fur and other porous materials tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making them less transmissible. The AVMA always recommends washing hands before and after interacting with animals.”

Dawn Hall, CEO of Hawaii for the Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation, recommended, “Just practice all the rules in place. If everybody is sheltering in place and staying home, that means their pets and people are staying home, and that reduces any chance of contamination or infection to anyone else.”

“Your pets should be with you,” Hall stressed. “In other words, if you are taking them out for a walk, you’re not letting other people pet them or anything like that. They are staying next to you. You are keeping them in your family and household – that’s the safest thing to do.”

“Importantly, you don’t want to wipe down a pet with a bleach wipe or an iPhone wipe, because that can be toxic,” Hall added.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Maui Humane Society (MHS) is asking for community support.

It is operating under shortened hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is offering limited services to the public. These services include pre-scheduled animal surrenders and scheduled adoptions, as well as lost/found services.

In an effort to minimize the number of people coming into the facility, MHS is asking the public to suspend low-priority activities such as dog license renewals and community cat trapping.

“For a complete list of all programs and services affected,” a MHS press release advised, “please visit the Maui Humane society website at www.mauihumanesociety.org.”

“This change will mostly impact the owner-surrendered animals,” MHS CEO Steve MacKinnon said.

“About 25 percent of the pets who enter MHS are given up by their owners. We are asking owners, who are not facing an immediate crisis, to hold their pets for up to four weeks and to surrender at a later date. For any pet owners who need to surrender immediately, we will still take their pets at a pre-scheduled time.”

Call (808) 877-3680, extension 3, for an appointment.

Potential adopters are being asked to call in advance of coming to the shelter. MHS is currently offering an adoption special, with all adult dogs available for a $20 adoption fee through the end of the month.

MHS Enforcement officers continue to provide 24-hour service to answer high-priority and emergency calls, including injured or sick and stray animals, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, and dangerous and aggressive dog complaints.

It is asking that calls be suspended to report low-priority/non-emergency activity, including non-aggressive stray animal pick-up, leash law and licensing complaints, barking and nuisance complaints, and trapping and transport of community cats.

MHS is also asking people who find friendly stray pets to consider fostering them until the shelter can resume normal operations.

According to Maui Humane Society’s notice, “Pets typically stay pretty close to home when they go missing, so this helps get pets home much more quickly, without having to endure the stress of the shelter. Stray finders can take the pet to a vet clinic or to MHS to check for a microchip, file a found report at the MHS website and hold the pet to give the owner time to locate it.”

Officials at the shelter, located at 1350 Mehameha Loop in Puunene, are seeking on-call, emergency fosters who can take home a pet if the facility reaches critical capacity.

Fosters for medium and large dogs, bottle-baby kittens and pets with medical issues will be most needed.

To sign up and be an on-call foster, e-mail foster@mauihumanesociety.org.

“Our main focus at this point is on reducing the overall number of animals housed at the shelter,” MacKinnon said.

“It’s a predictable pattern that when people feel uncertain or worried, we tend to see an uptick in animal surrenders. Reducing intakes and maintaining outcomes is essential to avoid overcrowding in the shelter, especially as we are uncertain how long this crisis will continue.”