Kauai News

Kauaʻi Humane Society: We Need Help

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Kaua’i Humane Society. Photo courtesy Caitlin Fowlkes KHS Marketing & Communications Specialist

Enter the no-kill Kaua’i Humane Society and you are met with a cacophony of howls and anxious meows from about 200 animals that are crammed inside the 22-year-old facility that is now understaffed and overcapacity.

Spotted year-old mixed-breed felines and dark furred four-year-old canines who weigh as much as 60 pounds now range the compound. Some cat cages are filled with four animals. Some animals have been in pens for more than 100 days.

“As we approach and reach over capacity the first thing we do is reach out to our community,” said Nicole Schafer Kaua’i Humane Society Executive Director. “We look for fosters, adopters, and work with owner surrenders to provide resources and assistance.”

The shelter, which sits on five acres across from Kaumuali’i Hwy in Līhu‘e, is home to 80 dogs, 105 cats and kittens, and “other animals” not listed for adoption. Currently, there are six strays on hold waiting for their owners to show up.


To address the capacity problem, the shelter has frequently flown animals to the mainland, hosted free spay and neuter services, and conducted special adoption events.

On Oct. 1-8, the Kaua‘i Humane Society will participate in Empty The Shelters, a week-long national adoption event sponsored by the Bissell Pet Foundation.

The event helps homeless pets find families by making adoption affordable for prospective pet owners by supporting participating organizations with reimbursement for each pet adopted. Adopters pay no more than $25 and waived fees on seniors.

In the past 13 months, the shelter has held several proactive events to try to reduce the capacity.

  • Sept. 10 to 15 the shelter hosted a “Spin The Wheel” where adopters spun a wheel revealing reduced fees, adopting out 24 dogs and 42 cats, including Wringy, a six-month-old male who really enjoys being held on his back like a baby.
  • Sept. 16 to 18 all adoption fees were waved and 32 animals now have fur-ever homes
  • August 2022 was Clear The Shelters with the main event Aug. 26 to Aug. 28 with all fees waved
  • In June, the shelter offered an adoption special of $150 to ship animals to the mainland while the facility remained overcapacity
  • In August 2021, four shelter staff members loaded and flew 181 cats and 20 dogs in a private passenger jet to Seattle, many of which were adopted right off sunny tarmac

During sponsored adoption specials, the shelter drops the price to ship an animal to the mainland. Flights that transport animals to the mainland for off-island adoption typically cost about $700 per animal. The price includes the flight, kennel that meets airline specifications, transportation to the airport, rabies vaccine, health certificate, and boarding at a facility while awaiting a long flight.

During the months of August and September, shelter officials said about two animals a week were taken to the mainland by visitors who adopted them.

Poi, an eight-year-old male Terrier and American Staffordshire mix has been at KHS for over 200 days, along with five others.
Courtesy of the Kaua’i Humane Society

While efforts to decrease shelter numbers have been successful, the cats and dogs keep coming.


Lately, the shelter has experienced an increase in housing and owner surrenders due in part to pet owners unable to afford or find medical care for their animals, shelter officials say.

The overcrowding comes at a time when the shelter employees are still struggling with the unsolved break-in on Aug. 14,  when 75 dogs were set free from their housing. The shelter was able to recover 73 of the canines, but two were found dead near the highway.

The County of Kaua‘i provides about a third of the funding needed to operate the shelter. This funding goes toward animal care and staffing.

The shelter also solicits and receives grassroots donations and grants from PetSmart Charities and the Orphan Kitten Club, which helped to open the Community Care Center and purchase neonate kitten supplies.

To donate, or to volunteer services to the Kaua‘i Humane Socety, please click here.

Amanda Kurth
Amanda lives in Hanapēpē. She has had a love for newspapers and journalism since she was 12 years old. She attended the University of Oregon where she obtained a journalism degree. She interned at the Hermiston Herald. She has been a Kauai Now contributor since June 2022.
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