VIDEO: Need for Animal Rescue Grows Dire as Eruption Enters Week 6

June 14, 2018, 9:46 AM HST (Updated June 15, 2018, 11:03 AM)

UPDATE: June 14, 2018, afternoon

The Hawaii Island Humane Society and a team from the ASPCA airlifted three sheep and one dog from an isolated area in lower Puna early afternoon today, June 14, 2018, on Government Beach Road.

Hawaii Island Humane Society and a team from the ASPCA airlifted three sheep and one dog from an isolated area in lower Puna early afternoon today, June 14, 2018, Government Beach Road. PC: Hawaii National Guard

UPDATE: 10:45 a.m.

At the request of the Hawaii Island Humane Society (HIHS), the ASPCA deployed members of its disaster response team to conduct assessments of areas impacted by the Kīlauea Volcano eruptions, assist in managing the Disaster Pet Hotline for residents reporting pets in need, and provide lifesaving field rescue assistance for displaced animals.

The ASPCA is committed to doing everything we can to provide HIHS and local emergency response agencies with the support they need to protect animals at risk due to these devastating circumstances.

Robert Bethea carrying a lamb out of high gases in Lani Puna Gardens on May 16,2018, just days before lava took the house. PC: Batina Grossett

ORIGINAL POST: 9:45 a.m.


In coordination with the community and Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network (HLFARN), Hawaii Island Humane Society was successful in assisting the evacuations of 150 animals since the eruption in the Lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea began on May 3.

During a community meeting held by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Senior Director for Disaster Response, Dr. Dick Green and HIHS Executive Director Donna Whitaker on Saturday, June 9, 2018, a task force was created to initiate an independent assessment of the areas affected by the eruption.

“I heard a lot of people that are true advocates in this room, that are only here to help the animals,” said Dr. Green. “That’s our one common theme here. We will deal with what happened behind us. Everything that is bad that happened in this disaster will come up in the after-action report.”

Dr. Green has helped with over 150 disaster operations. He said the one commonality of successful rescue efforts was when the community worked together and communicated well.

“That’s what happens when communities work together—we save more lives,” stated Dr. Green.

Dr. Green was on Hawai‘i Island in 2014 when lava threatened Pāhoa.

During the meeting, HIHS Kea‘au Shelter Manager Adam Pereira said, “Currently, right now, we continue running our three facilities on the island. They are all close to or at capacity. We have taken all animals impacted by the disaster. Many of those were reunited with their owners or are in foster care. We have not euthanized any disaster animals. We euthanized one cat that came out of Leilanifor medical reasons. We have not euthanized a single animal in our shelter to make room for a disaster animal. We are housing disaster related animals for 30 days to give their families a chance to find to find them.”

In addition to rescue efforts by HIHS, Pereira said they have been supporting the evacuation centers. He said he visited both locations to troubleshoot issues and problems.

Pereira said, HIHS was in attendance “to come up with ideas and ways to move forward for the animals in the community of Puna.”

He thanked Aloha Ilio Rescue for relieving space in the shelter by taking dogs in almost daily—often, more than one at time.

HIHS conducted pre-evacuation sweeps, giving residents information on how to prepare their animals for evacuation before it is too late.

HIHS said they couldn’t have done the 150 rescues thus far without the efforts of those in the community.

Joshua Black, representing Hawai‘i County Civil Defense, said their focus is to support coordination, providing resources and pushing forward on rescues.

“We are there to help you out, whether its entrance, or a rescue or personal protection equipment,” he explained.

Black said he is committed to coordinating efforts with rescuers, adding that this event will serve as a learning experience for future disaster response.

In addition to government officials, agencies and concerned community members, the animal rescues shared their experiences and roles at the meeting.

Animal Rescue Groups

Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network
Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network was created by a group of community members to serve as an online informational hub for those needing assistance with animals and pets during the eruptions in lower Puna. HLFARN provides support, volunteers and supplies to evacuees. The group has over 4,000 members. HLFARN has connected rescue volunteers, countless foster homes and critical information to animal owners and advocates.

Aloha Animal Advocates
Maya Dolena from Aloha Animal Advocates said they have evacuated their sanctuary in Kapoho. Dolena said they evacuated 150 cats, 12 dogs and 4,000 pet shrimp, but they still have 35 cats that need rescuing. To support Aloha Animal Advocates, go online.

Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary
Since May 3, Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary has taken in 50 additional dogs and cats—a lot of them surrenders, a lot of them have been adopted out, some of them boarded and some reunited with owners and returned to people in Leilani, said Mary Rose Krijgsman from Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary. Rainbow Friends matched fosters with about another 50 animals, which include parrots, livestock, dogs and cats. A huge number of animals have been helped, including feral cats.

The total number Rainbow Friends have helped includes about 400 animals.

“We are looking for volunteers to help us with the animals,” said Krijsman. “We are looking for foster people. Rainbow Friends is a no-kill animal sanctuary. For more information and to support Rainbow Friends, go online.

Hui Pono Holoholona – PAWS
PAWS is a small, 20-acre sanctuary for feral cats in upper Mt. View. PAWS has taken in 50 cats, with many coming from people evacuating the area or leaving the island. PAWS is currently accepting animals. According to Frannie Pueo, PAWS is building to increase their space. Pueo acknowledged that for the “long-timers” as she called them, there is a need for comfort and a space that meets the psychological needs of the cats by giving them a space like a living room. For more information and to support PAWS, go online.

Aloha Ilio Rescue
Aloha Ilio Rescue has had about 50 dogs come through. Many dogs were housed for a short period of time. Some are still waiting to be reunited with owners, once they can take them. AIR helps with crates, air fare, boarding fees, vet checks, health certificates and adoptions.

President and Founder Daylynn Kyles said they provide support for whatever is needed to keep animals with their owners.

AIR has a team of volunteers for foster care, helping find dogs temporary homes and placements in forever homes.

“Our big mission is to relieve the humane society of their bulk,” stated Kyles. “The more we relieve them, the more dogs that can come in from the lava zone and they have room for them.

She said HIHS is overburdened, and that her organization tries to help them out and get the dogs out of there. She then spends all day then finding fosters to take them.

“People like Mary Rose, the Humane Society and Hui Pono are getting the brunt of it because of their sanctuary status,” stated Kyles. “We do have people out there, getting animals out of the lava zone, but we are doing what we can. Please message us.”

For more information and to support Aloha Ilio rescue go online.

Pam Mizuno, Director of the Panaewa Zoo, representing Parks and Recreation and County of Hawai‘i, said, “As far as the county’s end of it, we are working with the shelters to be pet-friendly, that everybody’s needs are met at the shelter and help HIHS to get what they need to do their job.”

She was assigned to help with livestock evacuations and coordination.

Mizuno said they began evacuating horses into the Panaewa Equestrian Center. She said then they began moving cattle.

Eruption evacuees from lower Puna at Magical Creatures of Hamakua – Animal Rescue and Sanctuary on Hawaii Island. June 2018. PC: Helena Lundblad.

Deputy Veterinarian Dr. Kim Kazuma with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture Animal Disease Control Branch addressed concerns over cattle in Kapoho and areas impacted by lava flows.

“If you are anywhere near that East Rift Zone on either side, I’d be making plans now,” stated Dr. Kazuma.

She said people need to ask themselves at what point am I going to pull my animals out and evacuate. She said she told Civil Defense when it comes to livestock it takes at least a week ahead of evacuating people.

Dr. Kazuma was involved in 2014 lava flow rescues.

Many community members have expressed concerns over cattle still in lower Puna.

“Please know we have identified most of the big cattle producers that were down in the Pohoiki area and near Noni Farms Road,” explained Dr. Kazuma. “We know who they are. We still would like to know who is down there, what do they have, do they need help, and what kind of resources do they need.”

She said there are cattle that are trapped in a 1,000-acre kipuka, but said they have adequate feed and water.

“The owners are well aware of the situation and on top of it,” said Dr. Kazuma. “Even though you may not see things or hear things, no one wants to see their animals get burned. The big thing is, know we are working with these people.”

Since the eruptions began, over 1,000 head of cattle have been pulled out of the LERZ area and relocated.

“We don’t want people to go in and do self-rescues,” said Dr. Kazuma

One obstacle has been finding space for all the animals.

Some have been placed in Ka‘ū and Dr. Kazuma said they are watching the ash fall and vog levels in the area.

She said the short-term goal was getting the animals out and the long-term was the safety of where they are going and looking at the long-term impacts of the ash fall.

Dr. Kazuma said in 2008, issues arose in cattle who were exposed to fluoride.

She said there are known fluoride poisoning issues for cattle with long-term exposure to vog.

“The people in that ash plume are aware of it,” she said.

Dr. Kazuma said diagnosis was made through bone samples from the cattle. She said she is currently working with USGS on testing.

According to Dr. Kazuma, preliminary results show there is fluoride but it’s not as high as in 2008, and different than what was coming out in 2008.

She said until results come in, they won’t know what they are dealing with and if mitigation is needed.

A flyover assessment of the eruption area was conducted on June 11 while two teams completed a ground assessment of the Leilani Estates subdivision. Given the results from the assessment, a response plan is currently being developed.

Gaining permission and safe access to areas affected by the eruption remains a high priority for the task force. Firm plans and communication are now in place with the various agencies to seek permission to gain safe access to rescue animals and pets.

Residents raised concerns over abandoned animals and pets. There are varying circumstances, and in some cases, animals have been left behind, some abandoned completely.

Dr. Green warned rescuers that they must have owners consent to perform rescues, even if the animals are left behind. Otherwise it is considered theft.

If you have animals in the evacuation zone, no matter the circumstance, you are asked to call HIHS at (808) 808-498-9475 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily.

Crystal Richard
Crystal Richard moved to East Hawai’i in 2005 to attend UH Hilo. While earning her bachelor’s degree in English and a certificate to teach English as a second language, Crystal served as the editor-in-chief of “Hohonu,” UH Hilo’s academic journal, and as assistant editor-in-chief at “KeKalahea,” UH Hilo’s student newspaper. From a young age, Crystal fell in love with the written word and has always dreamed of a career in journalism. She has worked as a Big Island Now freelance reporter since September 2016. She is a wellness and health advocate who enjoys swimming, gardening, reading and spending time with her animals and loved ones.


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