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Animal control on the agenda: HPD to discuss updates with councilmembers

Two months after taking over Hawaii County’s animal control services, the Hawaii Police Department is set to provide the councilmembers with another update on animal control’s progress.

Today’s discussion scheduled for 2 p.m. before the Hawaii County Council’s Committee on Parks and Recreation and Public Safety will mark the second update given by police since the department over took operations on July 1. The first was on July 6, just days after the county opted not to extend a contract with Hawaii Rainbow Rangers. Since then, HPD has increased animal control’s staffing to a total of 12 animal control officers.

“Currently, we have a total of eight in East Hawaii and four in West Hawaii,” said Assistant Chief Samuel Jelsma. “We’re looking to fill additional positions on the west side.”

While these animal control officers are currently on 89-day contracts — some of which are set to expire late in September — Jelsma indicated HPD intends to renew all their contracts.

HPD has also leased a location in Volcano to serve East Hawaii, a move from the previous eastside location at Kipimana Street used by Hawaii Rainbow Rangers. The Kona facility remains in county hands and is the only other county-run shelter on the Big Island.

Kohala Councilman Tim Richards briefly weighed in on future shelter goals during a recent Waimea Community Association virtual town meeting,

“The intent is to have facilities in North, South, East and West Hawaii County,” said Richards. “It’s an ongoing project.”

Shelters located in the northern and southern parts of the county don’t appear to be on the immediate horizon. According to Jelsma, the county is working to hire additional staff before considering opening any new facilities.

“At this point, we are just focusing on the facility in east and west,” he said. “We don’t have the personnel right now to expand to additional facilities.”

Though the county currently operates two shelters, both are closed to the public, and the moratorium on animal intakes remains in place. The county encourages those who find a lost animal to have the animal scanned for a microchip or post it as lost/found on Organizations across the county are using the national database to help identify lost animals.

For emergencies, including injured animals, animals that are a public safety risk and animal cruelty, the public can call police dispatch at 935-3311. Animal control staff can be contacted for non-emergency issues at 327-3558, while reports of deceased animals on roadways should be directed toward the Department of Public Works Highways Division at 961-8349 or — if the animal is on a state highway or road — the state Department of Transportation Highways Division at 933-8866.

Another point of concern raised in the July 6 meeting with the County Council were potential outstanding financial obligations from the Hawaii Rainbow Rangers’ time as the vendor. While some have been paid, there are a handful of claims still pending and being looked into by the county’s Office of Corporation Counsel.

While the long-term future of animal control on the Big Island remains uncertain, today’s discussion should provide some insight as to the direction Hawaii County’s leaders would like to head in.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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