Over 20 Maui residents turned out on Tuesday, Feb. 12, for the monthly meeting of the Maui County Animal Coalition (MCAC) to exchange views and hear guest speakers from the Humane Society of the United States discuss possible pilot strategies for controlling the expanding local outdoor cat population.
Other topics discussed at the meeting included spay and neuter programs, pending legislation affecting animals, Maui County funding and contracts, and how the money could be more widely distributed and effectively used.
MCAC is a recently formed ad hoc organization. Member groups, which share a common interest in animal welfare, have been meeting informally since January 2012. The organization's fast growing membership now consists of 17 different local groups on Maui, Molokai and Lana'i, according to Mike Moran, who acts as the volunteer moderator. (See end of story for list of groups and their Websites.)
Inga Gibson, Hawai‘i state director of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), was one of several guests from the HSUS to speak at the February meeting of the Maui County Animal Coalition (MCAC). More than 20 residents attended the event. The MCAC consists of 17 different animal welfare organizations on Maui, Molokai and Lāna‘i.
"While all of the organizations seek to help Maui's animals," Moran said, "at times, some of them have very strong differences with others, which can result in reducing the benefit to animals in general."
Moran and others stressed that the new coalition seeks to improve the relationship among the different factions and to expand their collective efforts to benefit Maui's animals. Moran said that not every group attends every meeting, but most participate and some add input via email.
Moran noted, "As the participating organizations have varied functions, actions and missions, as well as vast difference in size and scope, coordination as a coalition can be extremely challenging at times. In addition, strong personality conflicts among some participants add to the difficulty."
With the exception of the Maui Humane Society (MHS), Maui's oldest and largest animal welfare organization, all of the other groups are 100 percent volunteer, Moran said.
According to MHS CEO Jocelyn Bouchard, her organization has been active in the coalition since the beginning. She acknowledged that many of the members of the groups were former staff or board members of the MHS, but she stressed, "We are making a collaborative effort to work together in the best interest of the animals, no matter what our personal or philosophic differences may be Every organization is composed of dedicated, caring people and brings value to MCAC."
Bouchard said the 60-year-old MHS presently has an annual budget of $2.4 million, much of which comes from the County of Maui and is targeted for animal control. It has a staff of 40, 34 of whom are full-time employees.
The coalition has regularly scheduled monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month. The next one is set for 6 p.m. on March 12 at the Weinberg Pono Center on Market Street in Wailuku. Most meetings feature guests, ranging from national organization representatives to county officials.