East Hawaii News

BIDR, KARES Respond to New HIHS Partnership Agreement

July 24, 2015, 8:25 PM HST
* Updated July 24, 8:26 PM
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Several Big Island dog rescue organizations are outraged over documents released by the Hawai’i Island Humane Society Friday that outline an agreement between the HIHS and rescue organizations. The documents were released following a nearly two-week moratorium freezing the adoption of HIHS animals to the rescue groups. At the implementation of the moratorium, HIHS stated that it wanted to implement policies and procedures in working with the rescue organizations.

In the newly formed agreement, HIHS stresses that it wants to work together with rescue groups to “improve the lives of companion animals here on Hawai’i Island.”

Rescue group founders Tasi Autele of Big Island Dog Rescue and Debra Cravatta of Kohala Animal Relocation Education Service (KARES) don’t believe the HIHS agreement is what it appears.

“I am not signing any contract and there’s no need,” Cravatta told Big Island Now Friday afternoon.

“We are the voices of the animals, not the Humane Society,” Autele emphasized. “These guys obviously don’t have the best interests of the animals in mind. That’s what we are, and we’re not going to stop until we eliminate the euthanasia rate.”


Cravatta expressed concern about a stipulation in the agreement, under Post Adoption ii, that notes that before a rescue group could adopt out an animal, they must first get the adoption approved by HIHS.


“They are saying they want to know prior to us giving the dog up for adoption, information on who is wanting to adopt so they can check to see if it’s a good home and approve. They never check anybody who walks in the door. They adopt to any Joe Blow who walks in. They don’t know who he is or where he lives,” Cravatta said.

The HIHS issued a press release Friday regarding the new partnership agreement, in which HIHS Board Chair Susy Ruddle thanked everyone for their patience during the moratorium.

“I’d like to thank everyone who loves animals for their patience during our rapid review. HIHS wants to really ramp up adoptions to save lives, and we want to do so responsibly,” said Ruddle. “We are doing everything we can to expedite adoptions and to make certain animals adopted are in a healthy and safe environment.”


A major issue both Autele and Cravatta agree with is that the HIHS feels the need to control the rescue organizations, rather than working parallel. In identifying the reasons why, Cravatta outlined the HIHS’ want to use the rescue organization as partners of the HIHS, under their own governing rules, rather than viewing them as parallel functioning organizations.

“Their urge to control is out of control,” said Cravatta, who is concerned that the next step could be to control personal adoptions.

Items in the agreement include a variety of requirements and responsibilities.

Animals adopted from HIHS by rescue partners will:

  • Receive a general health exam
  • Receive certain vaccines, deworming, heartworm test, flea and tick preventatives.
  • Have completed a spay or neuter surgery

HIHS notes that it will bear the costs of the pre-adoption medical routines, and that no animal that is a threat to public safety or who has a chronic or recurrent disease will be adopted out.

Responsibilities of rescue partners will include:

  • Legal ownership of animal at time of adoption.
  • Ongoing medical care, if required, until an animal is placed in a permanent home.
  • Maintaining animals in healthy and safe environments with sufficient space to house properly.
  • Required health certification and rabies vaccine for animals transported out of Hawai’i.
  • Abiding by Animal Welfare Act standards and International Air Transport Association Live Animal Regulations should an animal be transported off island.
  • Reporting on adoption outcomes
  • Abiding by local, state, national and international laws.
  • Rescue partners must agree to never allow an animal to be used for medical experimentation, research or fighting.

HIHS officials say that rescue groups who decide not to complete the Rescue Partner Application or Agreement can continue to adopt as an individual under pre-existing procedures set by HIHS and pay the adoption fee.

Autele says the rules are “a joke” noting that the they feel like “a slap in the face.”

Both Autele and Cravatta believe the rules being implemented for rescue organizations don’t fix the real problem, and are instead an attempt to seize a hold on adoptions.

“We want to know how they run amuck like this with no oversight. How are they are this out of control with our tax dollars,” Cravatta expressed. “We’re the solution, not the problem.”

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