Although there are many responsible pet owners on Maui, according to a national survey, per capita, our island has four times more homeless or unwanted pets entering the Maui Humane Society than the national average. Maui County records show that because more animals go into the shelter than are being adopted into homes, the Maui Humane Society euthanized approximately 60 percent of the animals brought in last year.
Nationwide, the number of unwanted animals put to death in shelters has been on a slow but steady decline, likely due to increased awareness about adoption and education about the positive impacts of “fixing” pets. For example, the New York City Animal Care and Control facility has seen positive trends, with a 63 percent drop in euthanasia between 2003 and 2010 (www.nycacc.org/stats.html).
Yet Maui’s numbers are still growing, with thousands of healthy but homeless dogs and cats facing death each year.
See Spots smile. Tess Shishido’s nephew, Shates Castillo, enjoys a photo op with newly spayed Spots. Through its SNAP (Spay/Neuter Assistance Program), SPCA Maui assists owners like Shishido with no-hassle, low-cost, local spay/neuter for any pet—dog or cat. The nonprofit will schedule an appointment for the surgery at a locally participating veterinary clinic, help owners in need of transportation, and cover any portion of the vet bill they cannot cover themselves.
Photo: Tess Shishido
“The founders of SPCA Maui have examined the issues and challenges facing the animal welfare community on Maui,” said SPCA Maui President Whitney White. “We believe that the best way to lower the number of homeless companion animals and resulting killing is to stop it at the source. For we as a society to accept killing as the answer to a problem we have created is barbaric. Spay and neuter will stop the homelessness and the killing. What’s more, our organization is making it possible for anyone to participate.”
Spaying and neutering are the only humane solutions, said White. Containment of a pet is not a viable method of birth control. Cats and dogs can easily jump fences or dash out the door to follow their instinct to mate.
Considering the fact that one female cat and its offspring can produce up to 420,000 kittens in just seven years, and one female dog and her pups can produce up to 67,000 more dogs over a six-year span, that one single escape from home could result in the death of thousands of unwanted pets.
“There are cultural as well as ‘male macho’ reasons for not neutering one’s male dog, and SPCA Maui is well aware of this,” said White. “Apathy is also a major reason for not altering. There are myths about how altering one’s pet will change their personality. These human and selfish concerns should not come before the health and well-being of one’s pet. SPCA Maui encourages all Mauians to be pono with your pets.”
Education regarding the positive health benefits of fixing a pet is critical, and much of SPCA Maui’s focus is on spreading that word.
“Once a pet owner realizes the benefits of choosing to spay or neuter, but does not have the full financial ability to proceed with the surgery, our organization can help,” said White. “Our SNAP (Spay/Neuter Assistance Program) assists owners in need with no-hassle, low-cost, local spay/neuter for any pet—dog or cat. We will schedule an appointment for the surgery at a locally participating veterinary clinic, help owners in need of transportation, and cover any portion of the vet bill they cannot cover themselves.”
“Our family is very thankful for SPCA Maui and their services they provide,” said Tess Shishido, a Maui pet owner who has used SPCA Maui services for Spots, her cattle dog mix. “Without them, we wouldn’t have be able to fix Spots when we did. The process of getting her fixed was so fast and so easy! It’s such a relief to know that we are helping Maui prevent unwanted, unplanned litters. There are already so many homeless pets on Maui and knowing that we’re not contributing to it is such a good feeling!”
SPCA Maui is currently launching a “Build the Bus” campaign. This state-of-the-art spay/neuter mobile unit will be able to reach rural communities to alter dozens of pets each day in outpatient procedures.
“Mobile units providing convenient, accessible spay/neuter have been tremendously successful on the Mainland,” said White, “and are all the more appropriate and vital to our island, where isolated communities may have limited access to veterinary care.
“SPCA Maui is a 100 percent volunteer organization,” White continued. “We are dedicated to stopping the killing through spay and neuter in order to ensure that every pet born is wanted and has a happy and forever home.”
To reach its goals, SPCA Maui needs support. Donations are needed to help defray the costs of spay and neuter surgeries for pet owners in need, and to build the mobile clinic. Volunteer opportunities are available in many areas, including technical services, accounting, marketing and community outreach. Visit www.SPCAMaui.org to donate, volunteer and for more information.