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Even before the devastating Maui fires that killed hundreds, the Maui Humane Society was struggling to house all of the animals brought to them. In May of 2023, the shelter issued a plea begging community members to help house the high volume of animals in their care. At the time, the shelter had 130 dogs but only 40 kennels. A lack of affordable, pet-friendly housing on the small island helped to drive overpopulation in the shelter. Staff told news outlets that 40 percent of surrenders were due to housing issues. Maui Humane Society is the only open-admission animal shelter on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Source: CBS Evening News/YouTube
When the fires swept through West Maui, the Maui Humane Society knew that they needed to prepare to receive an influx of animals who were lost, found, injured, or otherwise impacted by the fires. They pleaded for fosters to free up kennel space.
Fortunately, several organizations stepped in to help. Southwest Airlines donated a plane to help transport much-needed supplies to Maui, and adoptable animals to animal shelters with space for them. Southwest Airlines, along with Hawaiian Airlines, previously had offered 19-dollar inter-island fares to assist with evacuation efforts as the Maui fires raged and in their immediate aftermath. Additionally, they reduced in-cabin pet fees to one dollar.
The plane arrived in Maui loaded with supplies and acted as an emergency transportation for animals from Maui Humane. Some of the animals who had been housed at the shelter before the fire were placed on board the donated Southwest plane and taken to Portland, Oregon to find new homes. Southwest, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, and global non-profit organization Greater Good Charities helped to organize the flight. 136 animals were relocated from Maui to other locations on the emergency flight. Of these animals, 103 were cats and the remainder were dogs. A majority of the animals taken to Oregon were cats. An additional 30 dogs and 11 cats were flown to California. The animals were flown in the plane’s cabin and were accompanied by humans, including a volunteer veterinarian from Greater Good Charities.
In their new locations, staff hope that these animals will have a better chance of finding a forever home. Additionally, this move frees up further resources and space for animals who have been harmed by the fire. Maui Humane Society staff point out that many of the animals that have arrived recently are injured and require additional care. Donations to Maui Humane Society can be made through their website.
Animal Shelters are a last line of defense for animals who need help. Sign this petition to Demand More Funding for Local Shelters!
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