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New CEO at Humane Society has lots of new ideas

Cat coordinator, food bank for animals on his dry erase board

Steve MacKinnon, pictured here with one of his four-legged pals, Sweet Pickle, is the new CEO of the Maui Humane Society. -- Photo courtesy of the Maui Humane Society

When you have seven dogs living under one roof, dinnertime is never a dull affair.

Just ask Maui Humane Society CEO Steve MacKinnon, who has seven rescue dogs ranging in age from 1 to 14. It may sound chaotic, but he and his wife, Dyanna, have feeding time down to a fine art and their multidog household runs like a well-oiled machine.

MacKinnon says he didn’t plan to adopt so many four-legged family members, but when your office is at an animal shelter, sometimes you take your work home with you. (At one point, he and Dyanna, who routinely foster dogs awaiting adoption, had 12 in their care.)

MacKinnon took the helm of the Maui Humane Society in early November, a few months after his predecessor, Jerleen Bryant, left to head the Dave & Cheryl Duffield Foundation. As Maui’s only open admission shelter, the Maui Humane Society provides vital services to animals and people alike, including sheltering animals, facilitating adoptions and reunions, humane education and a spay-neuter program.

MacKinnon’s love of animals is rivaled only by a passion for law enforcement. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, a master’s degree in public administration and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Among other things, during his 38-year law enforcement career, he was sworn in as chief of police four times — he led departments in New Hampshire, Arizona and California — and served on the United Nations International Policing Task Force in Kosovo and Haiti. In 2014, MacKinnon merged his two lifelong passions when he became the San Diego Humane Society’s chief of humane law enforcement and vice president of community response, a position he held for five years.

Today, as CEO of the Maui Humane Society, he oversees the nonprofit’s day-to-day operations, as well as its programs and services, which include high-volume spay-neuter clinics, enrichment programs for shelter animals, a volunteer foster program, and the donor-funded Wings of Aloha program, which transfers animals to adoption-guaranteed rescues and shelters on the Mainland (from July 2018 to June 2019, 870 animals were transferred through the program — an average of 73 animals per month).

As for MacKinnon’s future plans for the organization — well, he’s got a few. He’s only been on the job for two months, but he already has a long list of plans written on an oversized dry erase board on his office wall. Among them: appointing a community cat coordinator to focus on Maui’s feral cat population; expanding the nonprofit’s humane education programs; creating a food bank for animals; educating landlords about the benefits of renting to tenants with pets; and developing a program to help low-income pet owners cover costly veterinary procedures. MacKinnon said one of his overarching goals is to decrease the number of surrendered pets at the shelter by helping their owners keep them at home.

“We want to prevent animals from showing up at the shelter in the first place,” he explained.

Since he took the reins of the Maui Humane Society, MacKinnon has met with scores of residents, elected officials and community groups. He says he looks forward to working with the community to find the best possible solutions for Maui’s animals.

And you can be a part of the solution. Fosterers are always needed to provide temporary care for animals — cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs — who aren’t quite ready for adoption or when the shelter is full. Apart from helping prepare these animals for their forever homes, fostering frees up valuable space at the shelter. You can also volunteer to walk, bathe, groom and play with the animals at the shelter, take a dog on a beach outing, lend a hand at a pet adoption event, or help out during spay-neuter clinics.

On Feb. 1, the Maui Humane Society will present “A Night at the Movies” from 6 to 9 p.m. at Sugar Beach Events in Kihei. The family-friendly fundraiser will feature a screening of “Life in the Doghouse,” a documentary film about Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta, who converted their South Carolina home into a shelter and have rescued more than 11,000 abused, abandoned and starving dogs.

And on March 7, the Maui Humane Society will host its second annual Spring Fling Slumber Party fundraiser. At this dusk-to-dawn event — an actual slumber party complete with PJs, music, and squeaky toys — participants raise awareness and money for the nonprofit by spending the night in a kennel with an adoptable shelter dog.

To purchase tickets for “A Night at the Movies” on Feb. 1, visit www.eventbrite.com and search for “Maui Humane Society.” For more information about the Spring Fling Slumber Party fundraiser, to learn more about the Maui Humane Society, or to inquire about adoption, fostering, donor or volunteer opportunities, visit www.mauihumanesociety.org, email info@mauihumanesociety.org or call 877-3680.