HIHS progressing on Animal Community Center

  • The current Bark Park is located at the Hawaii Island Humane Society in Kona. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • The new Hawaii Island Humane Society Central Bark Dog Parks facility on Mamalahoa Highway is expected to be open in April. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • The new Hawaii Island Humane Society Central Bark Dog Parks on Mamalahoa Highway is expected to be open in April. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • The new Hawaii Island Humane Society Central Bark Dog Parks on Mamalahoa Highway is expected to be open in April. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • The new Hawaii Island Humane Society Central Bark Dog Parks on Mamalahoa Highway is expected to be open in April. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • The new Hawaii Island Humane Society Central Bark Dog Parks on Mamalahoa Highway is expected to be open in April. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • The new Hawaii Island Humane Society Central Bark Dog Parks on Mamalahoa Highway is expected to be open in April. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Volunteer Isaiah Wong exercises adoptable dogs at the Hawaii Island Humane Society Bark Park. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — The Hawaii Island Humane Society’s Animal Community Center, which will bring increased capacity to hold stray animals and increase spay-and-neuter services, continues to move forward.

Donna Whitaker, executive director, said it has moved administrative functions to the new site, a former quarry and bonsai nursery in Keauhou, and is settling in.

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Construction of the Central Bark Dog Parks is complete, she said, and the society is waiting for the grass to grow and fill in before it opens to the public some time in April. Whitaker said she’s hoping to have a firm date by the end of next week and a more complete update on the Animal Community Center in the next few weeks.

HIHS currently operates on a 1-acre site close to the Kealakehe Police Station on Hale Makai Place, and Whitaker said stray and kenneling operations as well as spay-and-neuter operations are still located there.

HIHS board of directors president Adam Atwood said in a 2017 Leeward Planning Commission meeting that the Hale Makai location “is very hot, too small (and) it’s poorly located.”

In 2011, the Leeward Planning Commission unanimously approved a plan to move forward with a bid to move to the larger, 12-acre site, and repurpose the former bonsai visitor center into an administration building, welcome center and cattery to shelter cats.

The facility would also include a veterinary clinic, dog kennels, parks for dogs and small animals and other amenities.

Then last year, commissioners approved a massive, 11-fold expansion of the clinic, from about 1,500 square feet to about 16,650 square feet.

The new plan also increased the plan for a cat shelter from 2,300 square feet to 2,880 square feet and more than doubled kennel capacity for dogs, from 60 to 125.

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Whitaker said at the time that the increased capacity would allow that facility to accommodate strays from West Hawaii and take some from the organization’s other shelters that are over capacity.

Atwood told commissioners the clinic would include multiple surgery suites where veterinary staff can do increased spay and neuter surgeries, and Whitaker said the organization would be increasing both its veterinary staff and Humane Society staff.