HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Maui Humane Society estimated about 3,000 pets were lost or displaced by the deadly Lahaina fires.
Some of those pets are still missing and pet owners said more needs to be done to rescue the animals.
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Lahaina resident Romina Bengohechea lost her home but had previously attached an AirTag to the collar of her cat. “Blondie” was still active in the days immediately after the fire.
“During the next like fourish days or so, I saw him moving from the church,” Bengohechea said.
Bengohechea showed authorities the location on her phone, but she was turned away.
“They said that, ‘We’re not going to let people walk around because we’re doing body search.’ And we said, ‘We don’t want to go in there,'” Bengohechea said, “We were asking for somebody to escort these teams or one team or anybody that’s trained to do that, to go to the areas that they were already marked with an ‘X.'”
Maui Humane Society is in the process of bringing in experts from FieldHaven Feline Center in California, but they will not arrive until Thursday, Sept. 7.
“Animals have died because of the late response,” said FieldHaven Executive Director Joy Smith. “Sure is sure, animals have died, but we just thank goodness that we are able to get in now and get to them.”
FieldHaven focuses on recovering and sheltering cats after a disaster and will work with a specialist to deploy trail cameras in the Lahaina burn zone.
“And we put them in place in conjunction with the food and we’re able to see what’s going on,” said feline disaster search and rescue specialist Shannon Jay. “We can see on camera the injured animals, the ones that really have to come out right now.”
There is still hope and it is apparent through Lahaina resident Brian Botka. He spent three and a half weeks without his cat before he received a call from Kitty Charm Farm in Haiku. “Mama” had a microchip and was reunited with Botka on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
“Seeing the community come together has been very heartwarming and I’ve had some great support,” Botka said, “it’s a blessing and she slept with me last night, it was great.”
Anyone who sees injured or sickly animals near Lahaina is asked to contact the Maui Humane Society.