At the HIHS shelter in Keaau, a “sort of an isolation tent” has been set up for rescued cats to ensure they’re healthy and to keep them contained and taken care of.
These animals have “been through a very stressful ordeal,” she said, and the shelter is “just giving them time and space to just rest and eat and get over it.”
If owners do not come forward, rescued animals get put up for adoption, said Whitaker.
Local animal rescue groups and foster families have been a “great help” by housing some of the rescued animals, which not only alleviates stress on the animals but crowding in the shelters, as well, Whitaker said.
Her fingers are crossed that the volcano will “pause long enough for us to get some of these animals adopted and create more room and save more lives, basically,” she said.
Hui Pono Holoholona is one such group that has helped with rescue efforts.
“When the volcano started erupting, it was pretty well known animals needed to be rescued,” said HPH founder Frannie Pueo.
The nonprofit shelter, which has 20 acres in rural Kopua Farm Lots for its Pono Animal Way Sanctuary, brought in about 75 cats during lava encroachments in 2014-15, and about 90 during the recent eruption, according to Pueo. Some came from displaced families and others from the HIHS.
HPH recently received a $2,500 grant from the Humane Society of the United States, which will be used to build an additional 20-foot by 30-foot covered kennel that will include an isolation area.
“The irony in this eruption scenario is that cats’ instincts are to shelter under buildings or climb trees, which can put them in the path of the encroaching lava,” Pueo said. “Every animal is precious and deserves to be kept safe and rescued from these disastrous conditions.
“I wish to thank Keith Dane of HSUS for this much-needed grant,” she continued. “This will enable us to expand our cat shelters to include an isolation section to treat the many cats entering with upper respiratory infection and eye irritations caused by the lava ash and sulfur dioxide.”
Dane, the Hawaii policy adviser for the Humane Society of the United States, said the organization has given grants to HPH over the years for their general operations.
HPH also is in need of volunteers. Visit hphhawaii.org or call 968-8279 for more information