Wildfires are still raging in Maui. The heartbreaking casualty toll is continuing to rise — amongst both people and their beloved pets. Even though 80% of the fires have now been contained, residents of Hawaii’s second-largest island remain under threat. The devastating blaze has prompted the Maui Humane Society to seek help in rescuing and providing urgently needed medical care to missing and sick dogs affected by the fires. The organization is desperately trying to help all of the abandoned and lost pets being brought in. Furthermore, a number of the island’s dogs have endured smoke inhalation or fire damage, requiring serious medical attention. The group needs an immediate influx of volunteers, donations, and financial resources.
The devastation caused by the Maui fires
It’s difficult to fully describe the devastation caused by the ongoing wildfires in Hawaii. So much has been lost — from lives, to homes, to sacred places for communities to gather and reflect on their storied history. What’s more, is that there is likely a whole host of bad news to come. In the days that follow, scenes will be cleared and damage further assessed.
The loss of Lahaina
CNN reports of the near-total devastation of Lahaina — the former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom — which is home to over 12,000 island residents. The Lahaina community has also suffered the destruction of historically and culturally significant landmarks, including the Waiola Church and Pioneer Inn. A massive, 150-year-old banyan tree is said to be charred, but still standing, for now. CNN’s chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir, was on the scene in Maui Thursday. Weir reported from the area, saying, “Flames came so fast, entire structures went up in a matter of minutes.” He added, “It looks like a bomb went off.”
Fires still burning as federal response begins
Six fires are burning between Maui and the Big Island. Hurricane-force winds, drought conditions, dry brush, and crowded development on the island has exacerbated the situation. At the same time, these factors are making it hard to fully contain the fires. The state’s Congressional leaders wrote to The White House, asking for urgent support and federal resources to address the growing devastation. On Thursday, President Joe Biden declared a federal disaster declaration for the state of Hawaii.
At the time of this reporting, the death toll has reached 67 people. Presently, thousands have been displaced from their homes and families, as well as separated from their missing or injured pets. Communication with residents remains largely unattainable due to disruptions in utility services, and more than 11,000 island dwellers are still without electricity. Moreover, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it will continue to bring in cadaver dogs from out of state to recover human remains.
Maui Humane Society responds to crisis
Soon after the Maui fire started, the Maui Humane Society sprang into action. Foreseeing the damage to homes and island communities, the Humane Society began to prepare for an onslaught of animal intakes.
In a news release issued earlier this week, the nonprofit pleaded for help. The Human Society wrote, “The fires have left thousands of both humans and animals displaced, causing immense distress and creating an urgent need for solidarity within the community.” Understanding the volume of the crisis, the group explained they were “expecting an inundation of hundreds of animals who have been burned” or “lost during the evacuation process.” Maui Humane Society is also endeavoring to help dogs “in need to critical care due to smoke inhalation.”
The organization further noted that they were over capacity prior to the outbreak of the fires. In fact, the group was hosting a “Clear the Shelters” event throughout the month of August. Already facing limited space to house additional pets and running low on resources, the nonprofit is now in dire need of assistance. The group needs funds and supplies to find, foster, and save dogs affected by the Maui fires.
How to assist the Humane Society
The Maui Humane Society took to social media to seek help from people far and wide this week. Staff is asking for several types of donations to facilitate operating as a center for sick, injured, and lost dogs.
Critical and lifesaving care operations for dogs suffering from burns or smoke inhalation require costly, urgent medical procedures. An unprecedented number of such animals are being brought to the shelter. Money raised will also be used for pet supplies for families who lost everything in the Maui fires.
To contribute, donate through the Maui Humane Society’s website.
Donate or purchase supplies
The organization needs dog food, pop-up kennels and crates, carriers, bedding, blankets, collars and leashes, water bowls, and towels the most. If you want to help, those items will go the furthest in assisting staff at this time.
For locals looking to help, the organization is in desperate need of donated or purchased supplies. Even gently used supplies will be put to good use once dropped off.
For people who live a little further away, the Maui Humane Society has encouraged gifts made through their Amazon Wishlist. The donations will be delivered directly to the organization and will help with everything from medical care, to crating pets, to providing the dogs with food, to creating comfortable spaces for these scared and understandably anxious pups.
Become an emergency foster
If you live in Hawaii, one of the biggest ways you can help is to become an SOS Dog Foster. Given how crowded the shelter was prior to the fires, there is little to no space to take more pets. The Humane Society doesn’t want to turn away dogs in need, especially those who need medical attention or critical operations. Temporary fosters can help care for healthier pets who may be awaiting potential reunification with their own human companions after this emergency. Becoming a dog foster parent is a great way to help animals while freeing up kennels needed for sicker pups.
Communicate with other locals about lost pets
Staff at the nonprofit, along with community volunteers, have created a Facebook group where locals can share information about their lost pets. People can also post about sightings of cats and dogs in their vicinity, as well as share pictures of animals they have rescued this week. The Maui Humane Society is also encouraging island residents to file a report for any missing or found pets.