Helen Woodward Animal Center Welcomes Maui Pets

Island Orphan Pets Relocate to San Diego to Provide Relief for Shelter after Nightmare Fire…


Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.  (August 23, 2023) – Over the next three evenings, a total of 20 Maui orphan pets will find salvation at Helen Woodward Animal Center. For Hawaiian animal rescue workers struggling to make order out of the devastating chaos that came with epic island fires, the blessing is twofold.  In addition to providing these orphan pets a chance to find forever families, the mainland touchdown signals an opening of Maui kennel space for the countless owned pets who have lost their physical homes.  The Center is honored to participate in the Maui rescue thanks to the kindness of Alaska Airlines, the Lewyt Foundation, the San Diego Foundation, SeaWorld San Diego, and the good work of Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation on the island of Maui.

The nightmarish Maui fire, fueled by hurricane winds, that took over the area of Lahaina on August 8th, claimed the lives of at least 115 people with 850 individuals still unaccounted for.  Added to the tragedy was the destruction of nearly every building in the vicinity.  Hundreds of residents lost their homes, considered “lucky” to get out alive with their families and pets.  Now, with months of recovering and rebuilding ahead, families need temporary places to sleep and the comfort of knowing their furry family members will be cared for until they have secured their next residence.  The Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation on the Island of Maui has been hard at work finding lost pets and providing comfort, care and supplies to those in need.

“In the list of needs, the need for space is right at the top,” stated Helen Woodward Animal Center VP of Development Renee Resko.  “The island of Maui really has the world’s heart right now and donations of food, vaccines and medical supplies are coming in.  But the one thing you can’t buy them is more space.”

Helen Woodward Animal Center has been working with partner organizations in Hawaii as far back as 2018.  Even then, the need for space was the most prominent issue.

“The island shelters deal with a crucial issue we don’t experience on the mainland,” explained Helen Woodward Animal Center Pet Acquisition Manager LaBeth Thompson.  “Those islands are so small and their populations stay small, too.  There simply aren’t enough households so their orphan animals tend to stay in the system for a long time.  We’ve been working with them for years to take in island cats and find them happy homes in California.”

Exacerbating the problem, the Maui fire depleted any remaining space leaving residents without places to live or businesses to provide for basic needs.  In the midst of such overwhelming life upheaval, adoption rates are certain to plummet with orphan pets stuck in shelters for the foreseeable future.

“When we asked what Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation needed, their number one focus was getting orphan pets to a location where they would have a chance at adoption,” said Resko.  “By doing this, we can help them access some much-needed space to help pet owners on the island.  It’s a win for the orphan pets and a win for the pets owned by Maui residents.”



Alaska Airlines, which has already been assisting with Maui emergency needs, was eager to assist Helen Woodward Animal Center with the transfer.  Cargo planes providing essential supplies will take part in the transport over the next three evenings.  The Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt Charitable Trust, the San Diego Foundation, and SeaWorld San Diego will also be a part of this rescue, providing care and passage from the airport to the Center.

Helen Woodward Animal Center is surprising Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation with a monetary donation to help the organization continue its good works. Individuals who would like to donate to the organization can do so here:  https://hawaiianimalrescue.org/

The Maui arrivals will go available for adoption over the next few days and weeks, as they are cleared by medical.  Those interested in adopting can visit www.animalcenter.org or call (858) 756-4117 x 313.




About Helen Woodward Animal Center
Helen Woodward Animal Center is a private, non-profit organization where “people help animals and animals help people.” Founded in 1972 in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the Center provides services for more than 90,000 people and more than 10,000 animals annually through adoptions, educational and therapeutic programs both onsite and throughout the community. Helen Woodward Animal Center is also the creator of the International Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption drive, the International Remember Me Thursday® campaign and The Business of Saving Lives Workshops, teaching the business of saving lives to animal welfare leaders from around the world.  For more information, go to:  www.animalcenter.org.

Due to Hurricane Hilary, all  departments will be closing at 3pm today.  Stay safe!