It was a marathon March for our AB core team and volunteers. We held back-to-back campaigns on the Hawaiian islands of Kauai and Hawaii, continuing our efforts to bring humane population management control solutions to the area. Week one was on Kauai, working once again with Kauai Humane Society. KHS graciously let us use their back parking lot, setting up a HUGE tent...which was perfect for keeping out the torrential rain that pummeled the island all week. The first three days were primarily dog surgeries, offered free of charge to the public thanks to funding obtained by KHS. The last three days were funded by Best Friends Animal Society and focused on the island's cat population. The team from Molokai Humane Society once again served as our trapping team, helping to target cat colonies in the area. When all was said and done, 529 animals on Kauai were sterilized over the course of six days. Prior to the start of the surgery days, AB hosted a happy hour at Gaylord's restaurant, inviting members of the FIX Kauai coalition, including Kauai Community Cat Project, Kauai SPCA and KHS. The event introduced everyone to the history of Animal Balance and sparked some inspired conversations on the next steps necessary to save even more lives on Kauai. Special thanks to Kim Foster for organizing the event and her unwavering support of AB and all animals on Kauai.
Week two saw the team head over to the Big Island, for our third campaign targeting the cat population on the Hilo side. AB once again joined forces with Hui Pono Holoholona to continue to offer spay/neuter for all cats. The rain continued to present a challenge, but did not dampen the spirits of the team, who were all feeling the "Hilo Vibe" by the end of the week. We were particularly excited that, for the first time, the Hawaii Island Humane Society in Ke'aau allowed us to pilot a Return to Field program, offering alternatives to shelter surrender for people who were bringing in community cats. Through speaking to people who arrived at or called in to the shelter we were able to divert approximately 30 cats from going through the shelter system and facing possible euthanasia. RTF has never been introduced to the island in this way, and we are hopeful at the success of this first attempt. By the end of the five-day campaign, the team had successfully sterilized 373 cats. Funding for this campaign was once again generously provided by Alley Cat Allies, who have partnered with Animal Balance on several campaigns to help save the lives of cats on the Hawaiian Islands and beyond. Hawaii is starting to feel like home for our team and we love seeing so many familiar volunteer faces each time we return. The local volunteers on both islands are some of the greatest people we have met. Mahalo for making the team feel welcome and for your dedication to this life saving work. It takes a village to create change like this, and we think we have the best village out there.
I took a quick trip to visit the cats at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo, home to a colony of cats that was sterilized during the Animal Balance campaign last July. If you follow our blog, you may remember the story of Sam of the Banyan Tree. Sam and his posse are still living happily and healthily in the gardens, under the shade of the massive banyan tree. They are obviously well fed and in great condition! It was a pleasure to see them and know that they will be able to live out their lives in the park, without reproducing. Targeted sterilization works!