A bill introduced by Honolulu City Councilman Tom Berg aims to give non-profit rescue groups at least five days notice before any animal could be euthanized by the Hawaiian Humane Society. The measure (Bill 57) requires the organization to develop a registry of nonprofit, no-kill groups on the island.
But, while the Humane Society believes the bill is well-intentioned, the organization believes it could put healthy animals at risk for disease, and lead to even more cats and dogs being put to sleep as rescue groups become overburdened with animals.
"One of the issues would be overcrowding, pairing the sick with the healthy in order to meet the holding period requirements, and the response from rescue groups," said Jacque LeBlanc, the Humane Society's Director of Community Relations.
Currently, the Humane Society puts down an average of 10,000 cats and 3,000 dogs every year on Oahu.
Animal Haven Inc., a no-kill group based in Kailua, urged Berg to draft the bill, saying it would increase the chances of animals getting out of the Humane Society alive.
"HHS has been in existence for over 128 years and has been a failure for literally millions of animals who have met a decidedly grisly fate at their hands," Animal Haven president Frank De Giacomo, said in a statement. "More than a century of failure and cruelty is enough, and a change is long overdue."
However, the Humane Society already has an open-door policy for rescue groups wanting to care for sheltered pets. Cats and dogs with a microchip or other form of identification are put up for adoption only after nine days have passed, and the organization helps reunite an average of 3,000 pets every year.
"We keep cats and dogs as long as it takes to find them a new home," said LeBlanc. "We're doing more than a hundred offsite adoption events (every year), in addition to what we do here at the shelter."
The Humane Society claims it only destroys animals that are very young, or those that are dangerous, sick or feral. The organization said it never puts down an animal because of the need for space, or the passage of time.
"We guarantee every healthy, adoptable animal a home, and last year that meant more than 8,000 adoptions," said LeBlanc.