Humane Society’s new head bows out

Illinois resident Sandra Shelby has withdrawn her acceptance of the position as head of the Maui Humane Society.

Last month, the society’s board of directors announced its selection of Shelby to head the agency, following the resignation of the former chief executive officer in April and a search for a successor that drew more than 140 applicants.

Shelby was supposed to start her position as chief executive officer of the Maui Humane Society on July 15 but “experienced a number of unforeseen obstacles related to the relocation of her household and family,” the Humane Society said in a news release Friday.

The board of directors subsequently appointed Jerleen Bryant, currently the agency’s director of development and community outreach, to the head position. She will start her new job Thursday.

Board Chairwoman Judith Aikawa said both Bryant and Shelby were standout candidates among 143 applications during the three-month search for a new chief executive officer, though Shelby was ultimately chosen because “it would be ideal to have both of these individuals working together at MHS.”

Bryant joined the Maui Humane Society in September 2012. She has worked in animal rescue since 2004 on the Mainland and has 20 years of management experience in both animal welfare and private industry, according to the news release. She also is in the process of obtaining her certified fundraising executive and Society of Animal Welfare Administrators certifications.

“I’m excited. I really do believe in the Humane Society, and I know every employee here loves animals. There’s no doubt about that,” Bryant told The Maui News on Friday. “But I know we can do better. We have some bright days ahead of us, and we’re going to make it happen.”

The Oregon native said one of her top priorities will be addressing the overpopulation of animals, though “it’s too early to put together a plan.” She said she hopes to curb the number of unplanned pregnancies and animals brought into Maui.

When asked her position on no-kill shelters, she said, “I come from a rescue background, so our live-release rate is extremely important to me.” However, because there are still so many unwanted cats and dogs on Maui, “the only way to address that problem is to decrease the number of animals on the island.”

“What the community wants is what I want also. I’m looking forward to working with other agencies on the island to achieve our common goals,” Bryant said.

The Maui Humane Society also has been aggressively combating the recent outbreak of a deadly feline panleukopenia virus in Upcountry this week. Bryant said 600 vouchers for free microchips and vaccinations will be mailed out to Kula homes near the “hot spot” where a number of cats tested positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, the Humane Society plans to focus on vaccinating as many feral cats as possible at the Puunene shelter. Infected cats can easily spread the illness to other cats through saliva or bodily fluids.

Former Chief Executive Officer Jocelyn Bouchard, who held the position for more than a decade, resigned in April to take a position on Oahu as director of operations at the Hawaii Humane Society.

The Maui Humane Society is the only agency on Maui that operates an open admission shelter that accepts all domestic animals.

The 60-year-old organization shelters unwanted animals, provides spay and neuter programs, promotes humane education, facilitates pet adoption and lost-and-found programs, investigates animal cruelty cases and responds to public service calls.

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