New Pet-Friendly Travel Programs in Hawaii

Photo Credit: Maui Humane Society

Beginning in April, the Maui Humane Society is introducing two new programs for pet-deprived visitors who want to interact with and help homeless animals while vacationing on Maui.

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The 60-year-old Maui Humane Society (MHS) is a private, non-profit organization and the oldest and largest animal welfare agency on the island. As the only agency on Maui that accepts all domestic animals in need, MHS sees roughly 10,000 animals coming through its doors each year. Its varied services and programs range from adoptions and spay/neuter to cruelty investigations and humane education. The MHS shelter is located in central Maui, on the highway between Kihei and Kahului.

“We have visitors stop by our shelter on a daily basis, just wanting to be around the animals,” says Jocelyn Bouchard, CEO of the Maui Humane Society, in a written release. “Until now, we didn’t have any organized way for them to get involved here, unless they wanted to adopt a pet. As with most animal shelters, we are challenged with limited facilities, funding, and staffing, and we rely heavily upon volunteers. We are excited about these new programs, as they are a win-win-win for all concerned – our visitors who love animals, our staff who appreciate the volunteer help, and most of all our shelter animals who benefit so much from interaction with compassionate people.”

MHS is introducing the following two new volunteer programs for Maui visitors:

Helping Paws Visitor Program

Beginning April 3, visitors can offer a “helping paw” at the shelter every Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. Each half-day session will start with a brief orientation followed by pre-planned activities such as walking dogs, bathing puppies, brushing cats, or playing with puppies and kittens—an important part of their socialization.

For clients who are interested and willing to help MHS in ways other than animal interaction, there may also be volunteers needed in such areas as maintenance, kennel cleaning, gardening, or office work. Participants in the “Helping Paws” program must arrive by 1 p.m. on the designated days.

It is recommended to wear close-toed shoes and comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting “mussed” or dirty. Children age 10 to 17 are welcome, but must be accompanied by a supervising parent for the duration of the volunteer session. For visitors who wish to create their own specific, individualized volunteer project or for groups who are interested in volunteer projects at MHS, the agency is happy to work with you. Contact [email protected] or call MHS’s volunteer department at 808-877-3680, ext. 14.

The Helping Paws Visitor Program is limited to visitors only. Maui residents are welcome to join MHS’s ongoing volunteer program, which requires a separate and more thorough orientation process.

Wings of Aloha Program

As an island community, Maui has a limited resident population and a shortage of homes for orphaned pets. Last year, MHS created the Wings of Aloha program to fly shelter animals to areas in the U.S. and Canada where, working in partnership with local rescue organizations there, the pets are guaranteed adoption into loving homes—particularly in communities with no animal overpopulation issues and thus a high demand for adoptable dogs and cats.

Airfare for an animal is costly, but if a shelter pet flies under the same reservation as a ticketed passenger, the cost is significantly reduced. MHS is seeking travelers who are willing to help by having a shelter pet accompany them on their flight reservation. Travelers need not do anything but contact MHS in advance to confirm details then show up for their flight.

MHS staff will meet the passenger at the Kahului airport during their flight check-in process and will handle the check-in of the pet. (The pets do not accompany travelers in the passenger cabin.) The animal will then be picked up and cared for at the destination airport by the partner agency.

For Maui visitors who want to help transport an animal to the U.S. mainland or Canada through the Wings of Aloha program, e-mail [email protected] with “Wings of Aloha” in your subject line. Provide your travel date from Maui and your destination airport. If MHS is able to arrange an adoption transfer at that destination, they will contact you to finalize the details.

The Wings of Aloha program is funded solely through private donations and often there are agencies on the mainland awaiting MHS shelter pets for new homes, but there are no funds to send the animals.



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