Story by Lehia Apana | Photo by Ryan Siphers
TITLE Humane Enforcement Officer, Maui Humane Society
DANGEROUS GROUND The call came in to the Maui Humane Society: a dog was entangled in a fence and unable to reach shade or water. Arriving at the scene, Adam Powell noted that the asphalt where the dog was caught was a scalding 145 degrees Fahrenheit; the animal’s health was fading fast.
“In the time that I was observing him, he went from sitting up and panting to laying down and not making any noise.” Adam used bolt cutters to gain access to the barely conscious dog, wrapped him in wet towels, and rushed him to the Maui Humane Society, where the animal later recovered.
PET PROJECT Until recently, if an emergency like this occurred outside of Maui Humane Society hours, nonprofit groups like Valley Isle Animal Rescue could sometimes step in. Thanks to a new Maui Humane Society initiative, help is always just a phone call away. A lean budget precluded hiring new workers, but with a bit of creative scheduling and officers willing to shuffle their shifts, the shelter launched its twenty-four-hour animal emergency response hotline last year.
“This program has been extra motivating for me — it’s exciting knowing we can now be there no matter what time it is,” Adam says.
SPEAK! Adam and his six fellow officers may be called upon to rescue or subdue a frantic animal, scout potential issues such as unleashed dogs, or educate a neglectful owner. When it comes to dealing with humans, the job demands diplomatic skills.
“We respond to a lot of barking complaints,” says Adam. “Typically a dog is barking for a reason, so that’s something we address for the dog’s sake, but also, nobody wants to hear loud noises all night. Some people call us, very frustrated, and just want someone to listen.”
The unpredictability of the job requires officers to carry a medley of equipment, such as microchip scanners, gurneys, various leashes, and Adam’s favorite — treats. He says that one of the most effective tools is education.
“Sometimes you’ll find people willfully neglecting their animals, but some people just don’t know that what they’re doing might be wrong,” he says. “Simply talking to them helps, and often you see a complete turnaround. It’s so rewarding to see the change not only in animals, but people, too.”
To reach the twenty-four-hour animal response hotline, call 808-877-3680, extension 211.