How One Animal Rescue Group I Met in Hawaii is Saving Lives

harf dog resuce

As I was preparing for our trip to Maui a couple of weeks ago, I started thinking about rescue organizations on remote islands. Rescue organizations and Animal rescue non profits on the most isolated chain of islands in the world to be exact. I did some background research and contacted the Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation (H.A.R.F), who is an experienced animal welfare group in Hawaii that partners with other animal welfare organizations such as the Maui Humane Society to bring healthy, adoptable animals to them and, in turn, helping to lessen the homeless pet overpopulation that plagues Maui.

Me and Myla , a Chihuahua /Rat Terrier mix, at a H.A.R.F. rescue event.

Me and Myla , a Chihuahua /Rat Terrier mix, at a H.A.R.F. rescue event.

I was lucky enough to meet Dawn and Penny, the twp amazing co-founders of H.A.R.F during our visit. With the help of their dedicated staff, Dawn and Penny are able educate the public about their pet adoption events and the importance of spaying and neutering. One example is the overpopulation of feral cats on the island.

James Cave wrote an article for Huffington Post which discussed the serious problem of the massive feral cat population that was threatening Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, a bird sanctuary where endangered species such as the Hawaiian duck, Hawaiian coot and Hawaiian stilt nest.

Historically, it’s been estimated that anywhere between 20,000 to 500,000 cats roam the 727-square-mile island. In the end, they were able to educate the public about spay and neuter programs and find a vaccine for the feral cats. Education is the key word here.

H.A.R.F is now buying land and building a NO KILL shelter. This is the FIRST of it’s kind on Maui! In addition to this building project, their volunteers and members continue their efforts to find good homes for their adoptable pets right in the knick of time, so to speak. They actually save dogs who are due for euthanasia by getting them into foster homes immediately. The rescued animal stays in their assigned foster home until H.A.R.F can find an approved adopter or they are sent to the mainland to a no kill facility. Yes, to the mainland! They make sure every animal is cared for.

Dawn Hall, founder of H.A.R.F and her rescue dog

Dawn Hall, founder of H.A.R.F and her rescue dog

Many of these animals have behavioral issues from lack of training and or caring. What’s really fantastic is H.A.R.F works with each animal and sends them to a special trainer when required. In addition, they handle medical issues that many of the animals have and ensure they are medically cared for by a licensed veterinarian. We also will do what we can for the livestock that are in distress. For example, they may have not had food, water or shade. Recently, they have started rescuing horses and cattle who are in distress and in need of food, water and shade.

Every action has a reaction and H.A.R.F is committed to their work of promoting the benefits of spay and neuter programs, educating the community about the humane treatment of animals and finding loving forever homes for every animal they work with. In fact, ten percent of the animals they receive are owner surrenders and 90 percent are transferred from other organizations filled to capacity. That’s quite a statistic that puts things into perspective!

I was so thrilled to meet the members and volunteers of this organization! Since their inception in 2011, they have done great work and helped their community in the process !

If you are thinking of adopting a pet, why not consider an ‘island dog’? You can learn more about H.A.R.F on their Facebook page or contact Dawn Hall at Dawn@hawaiianimalrescue.org .

As the famous Roger Caras quote goes:

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

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