How to help shelter animals on your next Hawaiian vacation
While you're on the island, you can help care for rescued cats and dogs, and you can even escort one special pet on your return flight to the mainland.
Mon, Dec 02, 2013 at 11:34 AM
You can turn your Hawaiian vacation into an opportunity to help shelter animals, thanks to two new programs at the Maui Humane Society.
If you miss your feline friend or canine companion while you're on the island, you can get a furry fix through the Helping Paws Visitor Program. Every Wednesday and Thursday, vacationers and locals alike can walk dogs, bathe puppies and pet cats at the shelter.
For travelers willing to go the extra (air) mile, the Maui Humane Society needs flyers to accompany animals off the island for adoption.
The Wings of Aloha program pairs visitors on return flights to the mainland with a cat or dog that needs an escort. The shelter pays to ship the animals — typically $200 to $400 — but it saves on airfare if a pet is linked to an existing airline reservation.
The program aims to find homes for Hawaii’s shelter animals by transporting them to areas that aren't overcrowded with cats and dogs.
"We have a lot of the same problems you see everywhere with too many pets and not a lot of homes," Jocelyn Bouchard, the shelter's chief executive, told The New York Times. "But we have fewer homes. All our counties are separated by an ocean and the population base is over on Oahu, so we have a limited potential for homes here."
The shelter gives priority to cats and dogs that have been at the shelter the longest.
"Some just don't thrive in the shelter environment and start to exhibit behavioral symptoms over time," the Maui Humane Society's website reads. "If foster care is not available for them locally, transferring them to rescues on the mainland where they will be cared for in a foster home setting is crucial to their well-being."
Travelers interested in escorting an animal on their return flight simply need to contact the nonprofit and then meet a shelter staff member at the airport for check-in.
Flyers have no responsibility for the cat or dog after check-in, and the animal will be picked up by a partner agency upon landing.
Since April, the Wings of Aloha program has transported more than 200 animals to new homes in Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and Canada.
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