HONOLULU (KHON2) — Over the past week, the team at Hawaii Island Humane Society (HIHS) has started their day by finding abandoned animals left anonymously at their Keaau Shelter. While they understand that this is an act of desperation, HIHS is emphasizing this message: Do not abandon pets.

“We are currently operating overcapacity; our small team is tired and doing everything we can for the animals in our care,” Lauren Nickerson, HIHS CEO, wrote on Facebook.

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Nickerson adds that pet owners abandoning their loved ones this way is not only unlawful — it’s unethical. With no information to help the animal, it makes it difficult for their team to understand the animal’s needs.

Nickerson told KHON2 that since Jan. 1, HIHS has received 61 dogs, puppies, cats, kittens and guinea pigs abandoned at their two shelter locations in Keaau and Kona.

This is in addition to 672 other animals that have come in through other channels, which include scheduled intakes (either strays or owner surrenders), walk-up intakes (strays) during business hours and transfers from County of Hawaii Animal Control.

NOTE: These dogs are not yet available for adoption. Two have medical needs, and two were just found on Friday, July 15. All available animals can be viewed here.

“As a reminder, Hawaii Island Humane Society is not contracted by the County of Hawaii to provide animal control services,” said Nickerson. “We operate as a limited admission shelter, which means that ideally, all pets have an admissions appointment prior to coming into our care.”

This allows them to plan to have a kennel open and to provide for that animal. Since HIHS never euthanizes a pet for time or space, their shelters are always full. That means when a pet is abandoned at their facilities, they have to scramble to make space. Nickerson said they make it work, but it’s not ideal.

“We really want to remind our community that we are here to help,” she said. “There is no shame or judgement; we just want to be able to support our community and the animals, by building connections, and providing resources help and supplies whenever possible.”

HIHS continues to develop ways to support the community through their programs, services and individualized support on a case-by-case basis to help keep pets in homes. These services include their Community Pet Pantry, which provides free pet food, low-cost Spay & Neuter, as well as resources to assist pet owners who need to rehome their pet.

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If you need help keeping or rehoming your pet, contact their Pet Support team at (808) 334-3357 or petsupport@hihs.org. You may also contact County of Hawaii Animal Control at (808) 327-3358.