Wings of Aloha: Uniting Shelter Pets and Human Companions on the Island and the Mainland

Travelers aren’t the only ones returning to the U.S. after a trip to Hawaii—many Maui dogs animals are now living in shelters and new homes across the North America mainland. The Maui Humane Society shelter accepts any domestic animal in need—more than 9,000 a year (an average of 25 arrive daily). As an island community, Maui has a limited resident population and a shortage of homes for the many rescued pets living at the shelter. Their primary goal is to get these pets into loving, responsible homes, but when they can’t, they try to move them to mainland shelters willing to help out and where they have a better chance of finding a long-term home. MHS's work is complex and diverse, including sheltering unwanted, lost, neglected, and abused animals, providing low-cost spay/neuter programs, promoting humane education, operating pet adoption and a lost and found program, investigating cruelty, responding to public calls for assistance, and trying to come up with ways to help fund all this work. Travelers can make a difference
If you find yourself pining for your dog or cat while you’re visiting, consider heading over to the MHS shelter on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and lending a helping hand for a couple hours or more. You can walk dogs, bath puppies, brush cats, or play with puppies and kittens. Children age 10 to 17 are also welcome when accompanied by a supervising adult for the duration of the volunteer session. Advance online registration is required. For details visit MHS online. Getting married or honeymooning on Maui?
Coming for a retreat and want to give back to the island? Adopting a homeless pet is life enriching. They serve as a tribute and a living memory of your time on Maui and the commitment you've made to your partner or your health. Fortunately, there are no quarantine laws that restrict pet transport from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, Canada, and most other countries. So all you need do is fill out an application and go through a standard placement process with by the nonprofit Maui Humane Society. But you rest assured that all Maui shelter pets are well vetted so they won't end up in the wrong hands. Give a dog a lift
You can also help give a dog a lift to a mainland shelter via the Wings of Aloha Transport Adoption Program. According to Candy Aluli, President, Aluli Public Relations, and volunteer P.R. Chair for Maui Humane Society, the program was created in 2012 to as a means of addressing overcrowding at the shelter. The dogs are flown to regions in the U.S. and Canada where, working in partnership with local rescue organizations (when they aren’t dealing with their own surplus of animals), and are guaranteed adoption into loving homes. MHS connects visitors willing to let a shelter pet accompany them on their return flight reservation on either Alaska Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines with dogs needing a sponsored ride home—at no cost to passengers. When flown alone, the airfare is prohibitively costly for shelter pets, but if they fly under the same reservation as a ticketed passenger, the cost is significantly reduced. The dog flies in a secure area of the plane, not in the cabin. You don’t need to do anything but show up for your flight. MHS staff meets you at the Kahului airport during your flight check-in process and will handle the check-in of the pet. The animal will then be picked up and cared for at the destination airport by our partner agency. In 2013, Aluli says over 200 homeless Maui pets joined families in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Canada through the Wings of Aloha program. If you want to help transport a dog, contact the For more details visit the Wings of Aloha website. The program is spendy and solely funded  through private donations; it can cost anywhere from $200 to $500 per dog (depending on the size of the dog and the airline used) for airfare and other expenses involved. Many mainland shelters are awaiting Maui shelter pets but MHS doesn't have enough funds to send them on their own. Donations to the program or shelter are always needed and gratefully accepted. Beach Buddies
Aluli says that MHS is also currently developing a new “Beach Buddy” program that will allow visitors to take a canine pal out for the day. It gives you a chance to enjoy the companionship of a shelter dog for the day—go to the beach, take a hike, enjoy a picnic, or whatever you like. They provide a “pooch pack” containing all you’ll need to care for the dog for the day, complete with treats. It's also does the dog a wonder to get a break from the stress of the shelter environment for a few hours or a day. The shelter is located in Puunene (central Maui), on Mokulele Highway between Kihei and Kahului. By Jo Ostgarden

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