Hawaiian Humane Society cuts back on services

Published  8:40 PM HST Aug 08, 2013
HONOLULU -

If you see dangerous or aggressive stray animals in your neighborhood, you shouldn’t call the Hawaiian Humane Society anymore. Instead, you’re now being asked to call police.

The Hawaiian Humane society handles nearly 21,000 stray animals per year. That's about 65 stray animals per day, but with rising operating costs, some services are being cut.

"It's kind of like going to the grocery store, it happens, you go to the store, you bring your things to the counter and you find out you don't have enough money to cover those items you've selected,” says Sheri Kajiwara, director of customer services for the city. “You have two choices, hope somebody steps up to the plate to cover your shortfall, or you have to put back some non-essential things."

Those non-essential services include the pickup of aggressive or dangerous stray animals, responding to calls for barking dogs, and cat complaints. Anyone with those issues should now call police.

"Costs in every area are going up, I mean all over. Electricity, housing, staffing, cleaning supplies, animal care, veterinary medicine, procedures, everything has gone up," says Jacque LeBlanc, community relations director at the Hawaiian Humane Society.

The nonprofit was awarded the annual $2.3 million contract with the city but still needed an extra $800,000 to fund all of its services. In the past, the humane society relied on charity, but that's no longer feasible and the city just doesn't have the extra cash.

The Hawaiian Humane Society eliminated 15 positions from its proposed budget. Three employees have been laid off and two more have been re-assigned.

"It's not a reflection on the humane society, it's not a reflection on its services, we basically have to go back to our basic core services we are required to provide,” says Kajiwara.

The Humane Society says it will still be open around the clock for animal admissions. It will also continue to provide for adoptions, sterilizations, care services, and will enforce animal cruelty.

The Humane Society will still service animals that are in imminent danger, but only during daily business hours.

The Hawaiian Humane Society isn't the only program feeling the effects of the city’s $26 million budget shortfall. In the coming months, the city says it will outline cuts to just about every department to even out the budget.

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