Imagine a place where life-long furry friends can be found, community members can be educated, and animals in need can be taken care of, from spaying/neutering to being nurtured back to health. The Hawaii Island Humane Society is working to make this dream a reality.
In 2011, the Hawaii Island Humane Society purchased approximately 12 acres of land on Old Mamalahoa Highway to begin the process to create an Animal Community Center in Holualoa. Work on the property began this April and progress is slow, yet steady with the help of community members and volunteer days, said Donna Whitaker, the humane society’s executive director.
Currently, the welcome center, administration building and cat barn are standing. Chickens, goats, a turkey and a duck roam the yard. When the Animal Community Center is complete, it will replace the existing shelter in Kona. This new facility will include a welcome center, parks for large and small dogs, an education center, a spay/neuter surgery clinic, animal shelter and stable, Whitaker said.
During past volunteer days, which “have been really productive,” Whitaker said, volunteers assisted with clearing away brush and weeds, as well as making the existing buildings more aesthetically pleasing.
The humane society will hold another volunteer work day from 8 a.m. to noon Aug. 16 at the new facility. This event will focus on painting and yard work. The humane society is looking for volunteers specialized or experienced in those fields. Anyone willing and able to help is welcomed; children younger than 16 must come with a supervising adult.
If you are able to bring heavy-duty power tools, string trimmers, blowers, gloves or bug spray, Whitaker said that would be appreciated. Donations of food for the volunteers would also be helpful, she added.
Those unable to participate can donate gift cards to Lowe’s, The Home Depot, HPM Building Supply or other hardware stores so the society can purchase the supplies needed to fix up the facility.
The Hawaii Island Humane Society strives “to prevent cruelty to animals, eliminate pet overpopulation, and enhance the bond between humans and animals.” Currently, the nonprofit has 38 employees and more than 250 volunteers at its three Big Island locations. It relies on volunteers to run the shelters. With their help, renovation costs for the new location are cut down and work is completed faster, Whitaker said.
“It’s a great satisfaction as a volunteer to help the community, but it’s even better to help the animals,” said Janet Schwartz, a volunteer helping at the new facility. Whitaker said Schwartz comes up in her free time to volunteer with the painting and anything else that needs to be done.
“Miracles don’t happen overnight, but they do happen,” Schwartz added.
To volunteer or for more information, call Whitaker at 329-8002.