The Hawaii Island Humane Society has officially welcomed the public back to its shelters after closing at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The public can now visit the shelters in Keaau and Holualoa from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday through Tuesday. While people can meet the dogs and cats to get an idea of their sizes and personalities in person, adoption and foster applications must be done online before taking an animal home.
“We’re so happy to have people back here in our shelters,” said Chief Executive Officer Lauren Nickerson. “Our dogs have only really known our faces, and we’re excited for them to start feeling comfortable with new people coming in to see them.”
Although they cannot touch the dogs, visitors can grab a small cup of treats to give to the dogs as they walk through the kennel areas.
“We want to associate new people with positivity, and it seems like having people back has helped the dogs show off their personalities,” Nickerson said. “Just by visiting, people are helping the animals.”
HIHS is continuing its foster-to-adopt program, which gives potential pet owners a chance to see if a dog or cat is a good fit before officially adopting.
Individuals and families interested in adoption can visit the humane society shelters to see the dogs and cats available for adoption, or browse through pictures on the humane society’s website.
Applicants must apply online and wait for approval and pet reservation before staff at the shelter will schedule a pickup for the animal.
After a maximum of two weeks, those fostering-to-adopt will be asked to adopt the animal, return the animal, or continue fostering with the intention to allow someone else to adopt.
HIHS hope to alleviate capacity pressure at the shelters while also providing a safe but temporary environment for animals where they can develop, recover and thrive while awaiting adoption or transport.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, it seemed like everyone was baking banana bread and fostering dogs,” Nickerson said. “Now, it’s kind of fallen off a bit, and we want to remind everyone that these programs are still available and much-needed.”
Transport fostering is available for dogs that are scheduled be transported to shelters on the mainland. Dogs will stay with a foster volunteer for a couple weeks before being taken to the airport.
“Our transport fostering is a great way for people to dip their toe into fostering in general,” Nickerson said. “Volunteers don’t feel pressure to adopt the dog, because these dogs have somewhere they need to go, and they’ll be okay.”
Medical fostering also is available for dogs recovering from surgeries or medical conditions.
“Sometimes, dogs just need a safe place to better recover from surgery,” Nickerson said. “Many of these dogs are medium to large in size and are seniors, so the shelter isn’t always the best place for them to recover.”
Volunteers also can apply for regular fostering to open up kennels while also helping an animal in need learn what it’s like to be part of a loving family.
Foster families will have access to the humane society’s medical and behavioral support while taking care of dogs or cats.
The field trip program also is available to anyone interested in taking an adoptable dog out for the day.
“Even leaving the shelter temporarily makes a tremendous difference for our dogs,” Nickerson said. “Field trips and sleepovers give them a much-needed break from the shelter and help their personalities shine.”
Anyone interested in fostering dogs can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on the fostering, adoptions, available animals and the field trip program can be found at hihs.org.
Email Kelsey Walling at email@example.com
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald