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Animal Shelters Prepare for Tropical Storm Olivia

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Ku'uwehi Hiraishi
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A natural disaster like a tropical storm can become a tricky situation when you’re trying to find safe spaces for hundreds of animals. After Hawai’i’s brush with Hurricane Lane, the state’s humane societies say they are prepared for Tropical Storm Olivia. HPR Reporter Ku’uwehi Hiraishi has more. 

Two-year-old Jill is excited to get out of her kennel once more before the possible lockdown for Tropical Storm Olivia. 

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Two-year-old Jill enjoying some sunshine before Tropical Storm Olivia heads her way.

The grey Terrier-American Pit Bull Mix is a hefty sixty pounds and keeping her indoors for a pro-longed period of time could be quite the task. Not to mention her barking neighbors Devin, Roxy, Cocoa, and the other more than 200 animals in shelter in Honolulu. 

“So right now, we’re just ensuring that we have all the supplies that we need on campus,” says Allison Gammel, Community Relations Director for the Hawaiian Humane Society. “We’re talking to volunteers to help us with preparations. And we’re just going to see what the weather is like.”

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A Hawaiian Humane Society volunteer walks Roxy before Tropical Storm Olivia could have her indoors until the storm passes.

“So typically with severed wind and severe rain, we can see an increase with animals getting loose or running away,” says Gammel, “So we do let people know that it is important to make sure that their animals have proper identifications. Whether it’s a license, a microchip or some sort of ID with their name and phone number.”

Over on the Valley Isle, the Maui Humane Society has an estimated 230 animals in shelter. 

“Predominantly dogs and cats but we have a lots of different critters,” says Nancy Willis, Director of Development & Community Outreach at the Maui Humane Society, “We have, right now, rabbits, guinea pigs. We have some ducks. We’ve had goats. We’ve had pigs. It’s probably a little nerve-wracking for them just like it is for people having that wind and rain whipping through.”

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Dogs like Jill are usually kept in covered, open-air kennels at the Hawaiian Humane Society. The kennels are susceptible to the elements. During storms and hurricanes, the animals will be moved indoors.

The Pu?un?n? organization is working with the American Red Cross to provide pet-friendly shelters around the island.

“We have volunteers and the hard-working staff are going to be staffing them 24 hours a day,” says Willis, “If you are in need to shelter for yourself and your pets. You need to make sure that they?re contained – that you are bringing a crate or a carrier. And bring all of the supplies that you would need for your animals. So bring food and medicines and kitty litter and all that stuff.”

Pet-friendly shelters are open at Maui High, K?hei Elementary, and Kalama Intermediate Schools. 

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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