Animal shelters see slight uptick in surrenders, Maui man charged for puppy abandonment


PUUNENE, Hawaii (KHON2) — Several animal shelters in the state said they have recently seen a slight uptick in animal surrenders and abandonment.

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On Monday, Nov. 2, workers and volunteers at Maui Humane Society (MHS) made a heart-wrenching discovery.

Six puppies were left on MHS property in a plastic storage container. The lid was sealed closed with duct tape.

Four hours had passed in the hot sun before the container was discovered by a volunteer and opened, but tragically it was too late for two of the puppies.

The remaining four puppies were rushed inside to receive emergency medical attention.

“Upon looking at the surveillance footage afterwards, our humane enforcement officers could very clearly see somebody coming up. They put the bin, which was sealed with duct tape and no air holes, onto the property and looked around and left,” explained Jenny Miller, Maui Humane Society’s Director of Marketing.

MHS Officer Boam reviewed the shelter’s security footage and was able to clearly identify the individual who abandoned the puppies.

The suspect was charged with six counts of State Cruelty to Animals and six counts of Animal Abandonment.

“This is a very shocking, very sad case,” Miller said. “This isn’t something that happens all the time. We have from time to time seen people tie a dog to the door in the night, or we do see, you know, a lot of dumping around the shelter, but very rarely do we see animals that have succumbed to being abandoned.”

She said in the last month, MHS has seen an increase in stray animals and “a very large increase in what we’re considering animals being dumped.”

“There is no reason to dump an animal. It’s actually quite cruel,” Miller added.

She said people can surrender an animal at Maui Humane Society for free.

“We’ll take it in and we’ll never contact you again if you don’t want us to. We just want that animal to be in good safe hands. And we just invite the public to make an appointment, come in to make a surrender, and just let us know,” Miller said.

The Hawaiian Humane Society on Oahu said its been monitoring pet surrenders since the pandemic began.

“Early on, things were at a manageable pace and they still are manageable, but we have noticed the trend over the last four months in the increase of surrenders,” explained Daniel Roselle, Hawaiian Humane Society spokesman. “We want the pets to stay with their families, and we want to be able to help every way we can.”

Roselle said there are many resources available to people who may be struggling financially due to the pandemic.

“We don’t know the specific reason for this uptick, but we’re looking at the most likely reason, which is the economic situation and trying to mitigate the impact on pet owners and do everything we can to help the pets stay with their families,” he added.

Roselle emphasized there are resources available across the islands. People can call the Hawaiian Humane Society’s admissions office and talk to staff members. He said sometimes people just need pet food and they have enough food to give away.

“If you don’t have the capacity to feed or care for them, bring them to us or bring them to another animal welfare organization. We are here for you,” Roselle advised. “There’s no shame. In fact, there’s a lot of empathy. Everybody in Hawaii is going through a challenging time right now. We’re all in this together, pets and humans. The resources are there. There’s a big community of people who care about animals and will step up and help.”

The four surviving puppies are feeling better and still being treated for parasites and worms.

All four have been adopted and are waiting to go to their forever home.

Maui residents who can no longer care for a pet can call 877-3680 during operating hours or schedule an appointment for surrender. Oahu residents who also need pet care assistance can click here

If a Maui resident cannot afford to care for a pet, MHS has its 4EverPets program which can provide free food and supplies.

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