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Petition demands animal control services on Molokai

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There is an unfilled position on Molokai, that of the animal control officer. Not only is this a solid job for a resident of Molokai, but it is key for the humane treatment of our lost, hurt, and abandoned pets on the island. Would no animal control be tolerated on Maui? No. Then why is it accepted on Molokai?

Ideally, the animal control officer:  1) works in partnership with the medical services provided by the Molokai Humane Society (MoHS), 2) temporarily houses and cares for dogs in the county shelter, and 3) arranges safe transport to Maui to adoption facilities. I know this because I am on the MoHS Board of Directors. I write this as a community member with full support from the board.

Currently, the position of animal control officer has been unfilled for at least two years. The county dog kennels have not been in use for almost a year “due to COVID” and were inconsistent prior to that. If someone in the community finds a lost or abandoned animal, they can either ignore it or care for it. This causes a great deal of stress as people desperately look for a solution.

That is inexcusable. Not everyone is equipped to care for a hurt or unhealthy animal. People are forced to look the other way. This callous attitude weakens a community rather than strengthens it.

As a teacher at the high school, I ask you this: What kind of example are we setting for our youth by not even valuing our lost and abandoned pets enough to provide someone to call in an emergency, and a safe place to turn them in?

If our community structure does not demonstrate compassion for animals and take responsibility for our lost and abandoned pets, how can we expect our younger generation to have compassion and take responsibility?

I believe that they will, but it will be no thanks to us.

When times are tough, like now, pets are abandoned at greater rates. Unwanted litters and economic hardship contribute to people doing desperate and inhumane things.

Why is animal control the responsibility of private residents on Molokai? I see others. Everyone knows someone, sheltering animals and taking strays and feral cats to MoHS to get spayed and neutered.

Since moving here 14 years ago I have come across four dogs that I did not save, and eight dogs that I have, by either keeping them or finding homes for them. One had a choke chain embedded in his neck. My husband found one two weeks ago on the side of the road. She weighed 30 pounds and should have weighed 80. This beautiful, sweet dog was so close to dying.

We are Maui County. There are funds designated for animal control, and it is a responsibility of the Police Department.   That duty is not being fulfilled on Molokai, for whatever reason. As an island, we are not being treated equitably and we are missing a valuable opportunity to strengthen the community.

It is time for us to stand and speak up for the voiceless; the lost, hurt, and abandoned animals.

Please sign the petition to “Demand Animal Control Services on Molokai” located at Change.org.

* Laura Peterson is an educator on the island of Molokai, where she walks and hikes daily with her husband and three dogs. She has served as secretary of the Board of Directors for the Molokai Humane Society for five years. She is passionate about social justice and speaking up for diversity, animals, and our planet. 

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