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The Hawaiian Humane Society accepted 21,000 stray animals last year.
But under a new budget, its staff will no longer be responding to calls to pick up loose, sick, or injured animals.
“There are stray animals all the time. You can’t just let them get hit by a car or someone take them in or people who own the dog will never get it back,” dog owner Carol Belmodis said.
The Humane Society says now a person will have to personally drop the animal off at the shelter, which is open 24/7.
But animal pickup is just one of the services being impacted under the new budget. Complaints about cats, barking dogs, and other field services like pet shop inspection or a person with too many animals will no longer be in the Humane Society’s hands.
Effective immediately, they will only take calls about aggressive loose dogs or animal emergencies between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
“We simply have to go back to what our basic core services we are required to provide,” Department of Customer Service Director Sheri Kajiwara said.
Under its county contract, the Humane Society got the same amount of money from the city as last year — $2.3 million. But they argue it’s not enough to pay for everything.
“Anything that has to do with investigations and case work, except for animal cruelty, will be handled by HPD or so we’ve been advised,” Hawaiian Humane Society Community Relations Director Jacque LeBlanc said.
That means the public must call 911 for most animal issues. HPD can expect their phone to be busy with 2,000 calls for barking dog complaints — that’s how many the Humane Society fielded last year.
“Are they trained for that?” KHON2 asked.
“They will go in and investigate, they will go to the site. We will have to educate. There will be a learning curve in adjusting to this new process,” Kajiwara said.
The Hawaiian Humane Society laid off three workers, but making additional pay cuts to employees to keep these services was not considered.