UPDATE – In a morning update, Hawaii County Civil Defense reports that, “conditions permitting, Leilani Estates residents with property between Highway 130 and Maile Street will be allowed to enter the subdivision to complete evacuation of pets, medicine, and vital documents left behind between the hours of 8 am to 6 pm.”
(BIVN) – The need to care for pets that may have been left behind in hastily evacuated neighborhoods on Thursday has become more desperate, as residents still have yet to return to their homes.
Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens residents have been placed on evacuation notice due to the unpredictability of volcanic hazards, which aside from spattering lava fissures also include extremely dangerous air quality conditions due to high levels of sulfur dioxide gas. American Red Cross and Department of Parks and Recreation shelters have been made available for sheltering needs.
During a public meeting held Friday in Pahoa, the subject of pets came up during a talk by Hawai‘i County Public Works directors. Highway Maintenance Division Chief Neil Azevedo normally deals with potholes. But these days, his crew is often the first on the scene of a smoldering ground crack that evolves into a lava fissure. And his department has also been involved in evacuating residents.
“The hardest thing for us is telling you guys to come out of the house,” Azevedo told the crowd, many of them evacuees. “It’s the hardest thing to leave your home. It’s your home.”
“But please,” Azevedo pleaded, “when we tell you guys we have to go now, please help us out, and leave. We wouldn’t want nothing to happen to any of you.”
Azevedo then acknowledged an anguished Smiley Burrows, who became emotional as she explained how she evacuated her family from Leilani the night before, but could not evacuate her five macaws. She told Azevedo that she has a gas mask and she’ll take the risk to go and get her birds, if only police will let her through the roadblock.
Other voices in the crowd echoed the predicament.
Emergency officials say they have been working on a plan to help residents like Burrows retrieve the animals they left behind.
Following Public Works, the Department of Parks and Recreation took the microphone, and spoke at length about the facilities that have become shelters, and how pets figured into the planning.
“We opened up the top (of the Pahoa shelter area) for people with pets,” said deputy director Maurice Messina, “you can come in there, we set up cots for you, we set up big canopy tents today. You can be there with your pets. You can sleep next to your pets. You can put your pets out in the tent and you can sleep inside if you’d like.”
Parks and Recreation director Roxcie Waltjen said they have an arrangement with the Panaewa Equestrian Center to provide 31 stalls for larger animals, like horses and cattle.
The Red Cross has been sharing this information about pets:
Get a crate large enough for your pet to stand and turn around. Include supplies for your pet in your emergency kit, or assemble an emergency kit for your pet and keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers so that they can be carried easily. Your kit should include:
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
- Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener if you pet eats canned food.
- Medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
- A first aid kit.
- Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help to eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
- Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.
“Make an evacuation plan for you and your pets. Many hotels and shelters do not accept animal guests, other than service animals,” Red Cross says.
The Hawaii Island Humane Society Kea’au Shelter does not board animals.