Hawaii Island Humane Society & The ASPCA Form Animal Rescue Planning Task Force; Establish Rescue Hotline

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Photo from Hawaii Tribune

A much-needed rescue task force for animal victims of the devastating Kilauea volcano eruption has officially been established in Hawaii.

The Hawaii Island Humane Society and the ASPCA are among the organizations working on ways to gain safe access to areas affected by the eruption to rescue animals and pets.

“Given the devastating effects of the ongoing eruption on the lower Puna community, HIHS reached out to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to support HIHS efforts in providing an independent assessment of the areas affected by the eruption, communication from local disaster officials and collaborative efforts moving forward,” HIHS noted on its Facebook page on Friday of last week. “ASPCA was receptive and a two-person team headed up by ASPCA Senior Director for Disaster Response Dr. Dick Green and Joel Lopez arrived on the island yesterday.”

A community meeting was held over the weekend to discuss initiating an independent assessment of the areas affected by the eruption and ways to improve communication among the various parties including residents, rescue organizations and government entities.

Representatives from various government agencies and animal organizations participated in a planning session with the intent to create an assessment plan, define infrastructure in place and enhance communications.

“We’ve made great progress,” community meeting organizers, ASPCA’s Dr. Dick Green and HIHS Executive Director Donna Whitaker said in a statement released yesterday. “Mahalo to everyone providing valuable situational awareness and offering to help with plans and initiatives moving forward.”

A flyover assessment of the eruption areas was conducted on June 11th while two teams completed a ground assessment of the Leilani Estates subdivision. Given the results from the assessment, a response plan is being developed.

Gaining permission and safe access to areas affected by the eruption remains a high priority for the task force. Firm plans and communication are now in place with the various agencies to seek permission to gain safe access to rescue animals and pets.

Hawaii Island Humane Society has rescued more than 150 animals with nearly all returned to owners and the remainder in foster homes.

Disaster-related animals will be housed at the Keaau Shelter for 30 days to allow for reunification with owners.

To initiate a rescue request for your animal or pet call the Hawaii Island Humane Society at (808) 498-9475. The HIHS animal and pet rescue hotline is now open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm daily.

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