The tsunami warning sirens sound across the island. Families begin packing up their cars, grabbing belongings & heading to higher ground. Some people make their way to the nearest emergency shelter. For the homeless, evacuating dangerous areas in an emergency is extremely difficult. For homeless pet owners, the difficulty is amplified. They know that an emergency shelter will not let them bring their pets because they do not own a pet carrier and other pet supplies required by shelters. What do they do? Stay with their animals and risk their lives? In an emergency, access to supplies may mean the difference between life and death. K9 Kokua is comprised of unpaid volunteers who assist and rescue dogs on Oahu and Maui. K9 Kokua is the only animal welfare organization in the State of Hawaii whose primary focus is assisting dogs owned by the homeless and financially destitute. Assisting 100’s of dogs annually, volunteers provide dogs with medical care, veterinary services, flea/tick preventatives, community advocacy & education at events year-round and more. When K9 Kokua responds to a distress call, everything humanly possible is done to assist a dog in need, and often it means paying for medical costs, supplies, etc. out of volunteer’s own pockets. While K9 Kokua can provide cover basic needs for the dogs, K9 Kokua does not have all items necessary to assist homeless dog owners in the case of emergencies. According to the American Red Cross, “With the threat of flu pandemic, terrorist attacks, and major natural and man-made disasters…It is not “if,” but “when” a major disaster in Hawaii will occur…” When disasters arise, homeless dog owners face increasing danger. Not only do many of them reside near beaches and lack transportation, but emergency shelters that allow companion animals will not permit an individual to enter unless their pet has an appropriate carrier, food , leash, medications, and all other necessary items.
Funded by Oahu, HI (March 2014)