HONOLULU (KHON2) — A total of 444 animals have been brought out of Lahaina, according to the Maui Humane Society, 115 of those were reunited with their owners as of Wednesday, Sept. 13.
Their director said a majority of their rescues will be cats at this point in the response.
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“They go down into the storm drains and that’s where they rode out the fire,” said MHS director Dr. Lisa Labrecque. “So, that’s why there are so many cats. Sadly, dogs maybe don’t have the same sense to do that, they also tend to be larger.”
Thermal imagery helps crews identify which felines have the highest priority of being rescued. This is the 10th wildfire disaster that Shannon Jay has responded to — he has planted dozens of trail cameras in the Lahaina burn zone.
“So we can identify who’s there, what’s there, because we’re not there all night long And those cameras provide us intelligence and information,” said feline disaster search and rescue specialist Shannon Jay said, “what their condition is and if they fit criteria that they need extraction immediately and that’s happening almost every night.”
Maui Humane Society said over 300 cats were rescued from Lahaina as of Wednesday, Jay estimated there could be as many as 500 more.
Perhaps his most memorable rescue was a 7-week-old kitten who had to have been about three weeks old when Lahaina burned down. Jay noticed him during the evening of Saturday, Sept. 9.
“So that was my laser beam mission for the next few nights was to find him and rescue him,” Jay said. “and I did that two nights ago.”
Shannon named the kitten “Koa,” the Hawaiian word for courageous.
Hawaii state law requires shelters to reunite owners with their pets within 30 days of being brought to a shelter.
“We’re extending that to an additional 60 days, so that means that for a minimum of 90 days after when it came into our care, we can reunite animals.
Maui Humane Society is constantly updating their website with pictures and information on found pets, click here for more information.