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San Diegans helping Maui’s animals after fires devastated the island

Local organizations are taking in dogs and cats to clear shelters in Hawaii.

SAN DIEGO — Six orphaned puppies from Maui have been sent to San Diego to free up shelter space there. They arrived last night and are having a great first day at the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter. 

“Amazing,” said Public Relations Director Jessica Gercke. “I mean incredible. I think the astonishing thing about animals is how resilient they are, and seeing them come back from such a long trip, they've been playing with each other, cuddling with us, kissing us."

The shelter is getting six more dogs today and six more tomorrow. 

“We're trying to take animals that were in the shelter even before the fires - get them over here so they can find forever homes, and that opens up space for all the lost animals that they're trying to gather at shelters and reconnect them with their families,” Gercke added.

Helen Woodward is just one of several local organizations helping fury friends from the fire zone. We caught up with Kane's K9s and Animal Rescue at the airport Wednesday as they welcomed six cats from a shelter in Kuai. This will free up space there for cats from Maui. Unfortunately, a lot of shelter space is needed.

“The total number of animals we came in contact with was almost 1,100,” said Summer Piper, a San Diego Humane Society's Emergency Response Team member. She and three team members spent a week in Maui trying to catch injured animals needing medical treatment. “A lot of singed faces, singed fur, and a lot of burnt pads from walking on the hot ash or hot surface area,” Piper said.

For the San Diego crew, it was both physically and emotionally exhausting. Piper says the people there were so grateful to have them there, rescuing pets and easing their pain. “A lot of them are hurting, and a lot of them are missing their family members, their fury family members, so to try and give peace to some of the people using reuniting them with some of their fury family members, that was advantageous,” she said.

The puppies at Helen Woodward need to be vaccinated and spayed or neutered, but otherwise, they seem to be in excellent health and should be available for adoption next week. 

For more information about adopting one of these puppies, click here.

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