Do you miss your pet when traveling? Find yourself plagued by pet withdrawal, pining for Spot or Fluffy while on vacation? Beginning this month, the Maui Humane Society has introduced two new programs for pet-deprived visitors who want to interact with and help homeless animals while vacationing on Maui.
"We have visitors stop by our shelter on a daily basis, just wanting to be around the animals," said Jocelyn Bouchard, CEO of the Maui Humane Society (MHS). "Until now, we didn't have any organized way for them to get involved here, unless they wanted to adopt a pet."
The two new volunteer programs for Maui visitors are the "Helping Paws Visitor Program and the "Wings of Aloha Program.
Lenny was adopted in Canada under the Maui Humane Society’s Wings of Aloha program.
The Helping Paws Visitor Program enables visitors to offer a "helping paw" at the shelter every Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. Each half-day session will start with a brief orientation followed by preplanned activities, such as walking dogs, bathing puppies, brushing cats, or playing with puppies and kittens--an important part of their socialization.
For visitors who are interested and willing to help MHS in ways other than animal interaction, there may also be volunteers needed in such areas as maintenance, kennel cleaning, gardening or office work.
Participants must arrive by 1 p.m. on the designated days. Close-toed shoes and comfortable clothing that you don't mind getting "mussed" or dirty are recommended. Children ages 10 to 17 are welcome, but must be accompanied by a supervising parent for the duration of the volunteer session.
Visitors who wish to create their own specific, individualized volunteer project, or groups interested in volunteer projects at MHS, should contact MHS at volunteer@MauiHumaneSociety.org or (808) 877-3680, ext. 14.
The Helping Paws Visitor Program is limited to visitors only. Maui residents are welcome to join MHS's ongoing volunteer program, which requires a separate and more thorough orientation process.
Visitors can also adopt a pet from MHS and take it home as a cherished new member of their family.
"Visitors often fall in love with one of our shelter pets and decide to adopt it," notes Bouchard. "Of course, we always ensure our animals are going to loving homes, but the adoption application process is simple and transporting your new pet with you to your home city, even internationally, is usually not complicated."
Last year, MHS created the Wings of Aloha program to fly shelter animals to areas in the U.S. and Canada where, working in partnership with local rescue organizations there, the pets are guaranteed adoption into loving homes--particularly in communities with no animal overpopulation issues and thus a high demand for adoptable dogs and cats.
Over the past several months, nearly 200 homeless Maui pets have found families through Wings of Aloha.
MHS is seeking travelers who are willing to help by having a shelter pet accompany them on their flight reservation.
Travelers need not do anything but contact MHS in advance to confirm details, then show up for their flight. MHS staff will meet the passenger at Kahului Airport during their flight check-in process and will handle check-in of the pet. (The pets do not accompany travelers in the passenger cabin.) The animal will then be picked up at the destination airport by the partner agency.
Maui visitors who want to help should email info@MauiHumaneSociety.org with "Wings of Aloha" in the subject line. Provide your travel date from Maui and your destination airport. MHS will contact you to finalize the details.
"We are excited about these new programs, as they are a win-win-win for all concerned--our visitors who love animals, our staff who appreciate the volunteer help, and most of all, our shelter animals who benefit so much from interaction with compassionate people," added Bourchard.
For more information regarding visitor volunteer opportunities at MHS, email volunteer@MauiHumaneSociety.org or call (808) 877-3680, ext. 14. For information on the overall work of MHS, visit www.MauiHumaneSociety.org.
The MHS shelter is located in central Maui, on the highway between Kihei and Kahului.