Check list for new humane society leader

Dear Mr. Atwood,

I have been asked to represent individual concerned citizens and some of the animal welfare organizations on Hawaii Island. With the resignation of Ms. Donna Whitaker as executive director of Hawaii Island Humane Society, I understand that you are seeking candidates to fill that position.


As I am sure you are aware, this is a very important position and great care must be taken to replace Ms. Whitaker with a person aligned to the concerns and to changes the community is calling for.

I agree with your point about the hard-working, caring staff and volunteers. Many are amazing people. However, the leadership of HIHS has failed them many times, has failed the animals, and has failed the taxpayers of this county who fund the operations of the shelter, $2.1 million annually.

I would think that any animal welfare organization would make better use of this trust and funding to do the best to save as many lives as possible by implementing successful models already in operations in many communities all over the world.

Here are the qualifications of an executive director we are recommending that would address ongoing past issues:

• Compassionate care for employees, volunteers and animals

• Advocates for animals by seeking changes in policies, procedures and practices that contribute to the high kill-rates of pet species in shelters

• Seeks innovative, successful models and examples that increase the live release rate of shelter animals

• Demonstrates integrity and transparency in all processes, policies and procedures

• Demonstrates integrity and transparency in all data gathering, documenting and reporting

• Collaborates and partners with other local animal welfare organizations

• Visible to the public and accessible to the public on important concerns

• Maintains the highest standards of ethics when assessing the lives of each animal; does not make excuses or blames the public for the high kill-rate

• Does not co-mingle tax-payer funding and activity with non-profit funding and activity

• Ensures consistency in policies, procedures and practices at each shelter

• Develops strategic plans and goals that are implemented successfully to improve

the plight of animals

• Provides leadership in addressing crimes against animals

• Provides change leadership to aggressively improve from the status quo


• Maintains an animal-oriented and customer-oriented workforce.

Sylvia Dolena is a resident of Keaau.