This 12-Acre Campus for Abandoned Pets Is Getting a New Hospital

The Hawaii Island Humane Society opened a community center. A full-service animal hospital is next.
02 23 Heroes 1800x1200 Fob Nwm
HIHS Behavior Manager Lexi Anzai spends time with shelter dog Acorn outside of her kennel. Acorn has been adopted. | Photo: courtesy of Lauren Nickerson

Hawaii Island Humane Society has taken big steps lately, says CEO Lauren Nickerson.

“We have our brand new Animal Community Center, which is located on the Kona side in Hōlualoa. That is a 12-acre campus that’s been under development for the past 10 years and we moved into our shelter location in August 2020,” she says.

A hospital will complete the campus and is scheduled to be completed early this year – allowing animals to receive treatment and other services all in one location.

Screen Shot 2023 01 06 At 14931 Pm

Photo: courtesy of Lauren Nickerson

“It is going to include an intake lane for incoming animals, several surgical spaces, isolation units and diagnostic equipment,” Nickerson says. “We are excited for the lifesaving potential that the Anne Barasch Ryan Animal Hospital represents. It will allow Hawaii Island Humane Society to expand access to veterinary care for both our shelter animals and community-owned pets.”

Hawaii Island Humane Society, which also operates a shelter in Kea‘au, has been helping domestic animals on the island since 1963.

The nonprofit says it provides pet adoptions and foster care, outreach services like spaying and neutering, and pet food donations. It also partners with related organizations on pet transfers, and creates fun activities for its sheltered dogs.

Acc 4370

Photo: courtesy of Lauren Nickerson

On average, the society cares for nearly 250 animals at any given time, including dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs that are handed over by their owners, taken by animal control services or found as strays.

Nickerson says caring for the mental well-being of both animals and staff is critical, though not always easy.

Img 9810 2

Photo: courtesy of Lauren Nickerson

“Those of us who work in animal welfare are at high risk for burnout and compassion fatigue. We see some really hard things every day,” she says.

That means cultivating a culture of comfort and support.

“It is a really important part of my job to make sure that our staff has the tools and the support they need to be resilient, to be mentally healthy and keep showing up every day. Without them, we can’t help people and animals.”



Categories: Community & Economy, Nonprofit