It was a dark and stormy night…okay, it wasn’t really stormy, just a typical chilly Portland spring drizzle. But it was 10:45 pm at the Portland airport (PDX), and two night-owl OHS volunteers were waiting to pick up a very important shipment. A shipment that comes in almost every week, actually: three dogs had just landed at PDX after flying over from the big island of Hawaii, and we were there to welcome them to the mainland.
The three young dogs were eager to stretch their legs after their six-hour flight. Mara, a whippet mix, Moki, a hound mix, and Roscoe, a whippet/ridgeback mix, sniffed in the wet grass with enthusiasm. After we let them enjoy the sights and smells of Oregon—well, the area outside the Portland airport, at least—we readied the dogs for a short road trip to OHS.
Once we arrived at the OHS shelter in NE Portland, Mara, Moki and Roscoe were each settled in with fresh water, food, and a cozy bed for the night. Although we don’t have the warm, sunny beaches of Hawaii, this is a paradise for companion animals.
Within only a few days, all three dogs were adopted into new, loving homes.
Second Chances at OHS
Since about 1997, OHS has been giving Hawaiian dogs a second chance in Oregon. In those early years, it was just a few dogs from Kauai Humane Society when OHS had space. Since 2012, the program has expanded to include regular transfers from Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii Island Humane Societies. On an island with limited homes and overpopulation of dogs and cats, shelters must get creative to save lives.
“Far more animals come into the single shelter on the island than can be adopted out. Kauai’s program now has more than 15 transfer partners. The pets that are sent to the mainland free up kennels at the shelter for incoming dogs, or allow the harder-to-place animals to remain available longer,” said Danielle Fisher, who has worked at Kauai Humane and currently works at OHS. Many of the breeds common in Hawaii aren’t seen as often in shelters here, so they stand out and are adopted quickly.
You Can Help Us Save Hawaiian Pets
Do you need an excuse to go on a Hawaiian vacation? Here’s a great one: fly Alaska Airlines to Kauai or Maui. Contact the shelter a week or two before your return flight and tell them you want to participate in the transfer program to OHS. Shelter staff will coordinate everything else!
The island shelter assigns animals to your plane ticket and delivers them to the airport. Your “stowaways” don’t count against your luggage quota, so go ahead and cram those bags of macadamias and Kona coffee into your suitcase. You might end up with three to five dogs getting a free ride on your ticket. When you arrive at PDX, an OHS volunteer will meet you at baggage claim to fetch your animals. Boom—you just saved a few lives in addition to your holiday in paradise.
Another way to help is by taking empty airline crates back to Hawaii on your flight there.
Contact these shelters for more details about their programs:
- Maui Humane Society: http://www.mauihumanesociety.org; [email protected]
- Kauai Humane Society: http://kauaihumane.org; [email protected]; program flyer here (PDF)
- Hawaii Island Humane Society: http://hihs.org
Contributed by: Amanda Ferguson, OHS Volunteer