MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
The homeless, hungry and elderly are just a few of many in need throughout the year. Often times the less fortunate go without and some are altogether forgotten, like the animals that end up in shelters.
The Hawaiian Humane Society, located in Honolulu, has been rescuing approximately 25,000 animals a year since 1942, and volunteer outreach coordinator Natalie Lukashevsky said the shelter couldn’t function without the help of their volunteers.
“Our volunteers out number the staff at least 10 to one,” said Lukashevsky, a native of Honolulu. “Our staff couldn’t possibly do everything, so we need the help volunteers provide and with that help, many more animals can find homes.”
Lukashevsky explained that the Hawaiian Humane Society is the only animal welfare organization on Oahu that shelters, rescues, adopts and welcomes most animals. They are also the only open admission shelter on island, accepting rescues any time, any day throughout the year.
“Some people who want to volunteer may be worried about the time commitment, especially service members because of deployments or time constraints,” Lukashevsky said. “But our commitment is fairly minimal. We just ask for three hours a week for three months, and it doesn’t have to be on-site.”
People can get involved and assist with adoptions, admissions, administrative support, advocacy, animal care, animal behavior, education, foster care, pet visitation, special events and shelter housekeeping.
“Volunteers can even help from home by going on (barter or for sale by owner websites) and flagging backyard breeders, people who are selling puppies and animals for profit,” Lukashevsky said. “Volunteers also post positive messages about adoptions and help us promote advocacy.”
Lukashevsky said a great way to help out this holiday season is to conduct a donation drive or foster an animal at home.
“We always need old towels, newspapers or canned dog and cat food,” Lukashevsky said. “We are usually at our capacity for animal space during the holidays, so some volunteers foster over the holidays for one to two weeks. They select an animal to foster, and we provide food, a kennel, leash and all the supplies. It’s a great way to have a pet during the holidays if you aren’t ready to make a full commitment.”
Petty Officer 3rd Class Timothy Malaihollo, a hospital corpsman with the Naval Health Clinic Hawaii Kaneohe Bay branch, said he began volunteering at the shelter because he wanted to give back and has been volunteering at the shelter for approximately four months.
“I noticed how awesome it is to volunteer at the shelter and I love spending time with the animals so I continue to go,” said Malaihollo, a native of Ontario, Calif. “I come here almost every weekend to walk the dogs and help the staff. I enjoy the interaction with the animals and giving them the attention they deserve.”
Lukashevsky said they receive approximately 20 volunteer applications a week and one-fourth of them are service members.
“Service members need volunteer hours for an award or medal,” Lukashevsky said. “I write letters all the time. If you give us the time, we are more than happy to give commendations.”
The shelter also encourages people to volunteer as a group during off-site adoption events, such as dog adoptions at the Kaneohe Petco every Saturday. Other group participation volunteer activities include the Single Marine & Sailor Program partnership with the shelter.
“For more than a year now about 15 to 20 service members from the SM&SP have been coming at least twice a month to run with our dogs on Sunday mornings,” Lukashevsky said. “Training is minimal and there are so many ways to help.”
Lukashevsky said anyone interested in volunteering can visit their website at http://www.hawaiianhumane.org for the application process or call 946- 2187 for any questions.
“The potential for our volunteers to be advocates is so high because they see all the issues firsthand,” Lukashevsky said. “Some pets are surrendered because of people losing their homes, and these are highly adoptable, beautiful animals. Volunteers play a vital part in spreading awareness because knowledge is power.”
*EDITOR'S NOTE: Fostering pets for space procedures have changed according to Natalie Lukashevsky. Any questions can be directed to the Hawaiian Humane Society at the phone number stated in the story.