Maui Humane Society needs to adopt the no-kill philosophy

Having been bombarded by no less than two full-page ads and one half-page ad, I can only conclude that the conversation going on about the island demanding that a new executive director of the Maui Humane Society begin implementing no kill has struck a raw nerve.

I make the assumption that since the message was from the Maui Humane Society board of directors, members no doubt paid partly or fully for the ads. Those of us who abhor killing animals as a distinctly failed method of population control think that the money for all those ads would have been better spent saving animal lives and not defending the killing of animals.

The Maui Humane Society would have us believe that open-admission shelters cannot go no kill because they must take in every domestic animal that is brought to them. How then does one explain the hundreds of open-admission shelters that have already gone no kill? For example, the Nevada Humane Society and municipal shelters in Marquette, Mich., and Shelby, Ky. How then does one explain that the entire city of Austin, Texas, has gone no kill? How does one explain that Best Friends Animal Society is embarking on “No Kill Utah” and is already heavily involved in No-Kill Los Angeles?

As stated in the board’s ad, the shelter “receives an average of 22 animals a day, 365 days a year. For every single animal that is adopted from MHS, three more animals arrive to take its place the next day.” Multiplying 22 animals by 365 days per year, I arrive at an annual intake of 8,030. If the shelter adopts out and/or returns home three animals per day (1,095), that leaves 6,935 that were killed. If the shelter has another 200 dogs and cats onsite and another 100 being fostered, it results approximately in an 83 percent kill ratio. That means eight out of 10 animals entering MHS do not come out alive.

The point is: Why such an abysmal kill rate when other organizations are establishing a 90 percent or more save rate? Part of the answer is that those other organizations have executive directors who wholeheartedly endorse and believe no kill is possible and are implementing the no-kill equation. For detailed information on the no-kill equation, I suggest reading “Redemption” by Nathan Winograd or going to

So if other open-admission shelters can achieve a 90 percent-plus save rate, why can’t we do the same on Maui? The MHS ad was full of excuses. This is not the time for excuses. This is a call to action to all animal lovers. I started a petition that has received 1,500 signatures from all over the world.

Regarding the suggestion that MHS employees are anesthetized to injecting and burning animals, and that they don’t care anymore. It is not that they don’t care, it’s that they have become desensitized to the killing of so many animals, day after day. How does one manage to get up and go to work every day knowing that animals are dying 50 feet away? How do they cope? They adjust. They reiterate what they have already been told – there are just too many animals, we have no choice, killing is a kindness, and the list of excuses goes on. Employees at Maui Humane Society have been desensitized to the carnage.

It’s time to think outside the box. People are tired of the killing. Maui Humane Society has been killing animals for 60 years. Has that lowered the kill ratio? To do the same thing year after year and expect different results is a good description of insanity. It is time for a change. Hiring an executive director who is committed to no kill and putting a clause in the contract that states this must be accomplished within a year or the contract will not be renewed is a great incentive.

* Phyllis Tavares is the executive director of 9th Life Hawaii, a nonprofit, no-kill cat rescue and sanctuary.