Interim services agreement extended for animal control

  • “Midnight,” a dog at the Hawaii Rainbow Rangers’ Kona facility poses after donating blood to help a fellow dog. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • A trio of kittens look over the shoulder of a Hawaii Rainbow Rangers worker. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Hawaii Island’s transition to a new animal control vendor is going to take a little more time.

The Hawaii Rainbow Rangers, which was awarded Hawaii Island’s new animal control contract on July 24, released a statement on Monday announcing an extension of its interim services agreement with Hawaii County. The exact length of this extension is currently uncertain; transition into full services is contingent on the organization acquiring the necessary shelters in both East Hawaii and Waimea.

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An extension was brought up as a possibility in October; ultimately, the Hawaii Police Department (HPD) and HRR agreed during an Oct. 22 meeting to extend interim services beyond the end of the month. HPD will continue to assist HRR moving forward, including handling animal cruelty and related investigations. HRR was originally scheduled to take over full services on Nov. 1.

“They were supposed to have in place a facility in East Hawaii as well as one in Waimea, which they have not established,” said HPD’s acting assistant chief Samuel Jelsma, who deals with the animal control contract. “We discussed that we’re not going to be paying them the full rate if we’re not getting the full service that’s required by the contract. Based on that meeting, a request was made that they would continue at the interim rate until such time as those two facilities come online. Then we’ll pay them at the full contract rate, which is about $70,000 more per month than what they’re getting now.”

In an Oct. 6 presentation to the Hawaii County Council Committee on Public Safety, HRR had expressed plans for an East Hawaii location to be operational by Nov. 30. HRR’s director of operations Nick Lippincott is confident that Nov. 30 date will remain firm.

“I haven’t heard anything that changes that in any way,” Lippincott said. “(The property) in escrow. It has some really good potential; I like the location a lot. The timeline seems to be unchanged at this time.”

Until this new property is operational, HRR will continue to use the Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary as its temporary East Hawaii location. While the timeline for the East Hawaii location remains unchanged, a Waimea location likely won’t be operational until December.

In the meantime, HRR has expanded its hours; both the West Hawaii location, at 74-5225 Queen Kaahumanu Highway in Kailua-Kona, and the East Hawaii location, at 17-382 13 Mile Road in Kurtistown, will be open six days per week; both locations will be closed on Tuesdays. West Hawaii hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., while East Hawaii’s will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Lippincott also indicated statistics including animal intake, adoptions and deceased animals will be submitted to the county and published online on a monthly basis moving forward.

“I’m very happy to say that the month of October was our first month where we had our new data system fully implemented, which does count both shelter data as well as call data: tracking calls in, not just calls for service,” Lippincott said. “We will have our staff publish and provide to the county by the end of this week. We’re trying to keep a hard deadline of no more than five days (after the end of the month). We will also begin publicizing them live on our website as well; please hold me to that”

An exact figure of animals taken in during October was not available, but Lippincott estimated HRR took in just over 250 animals during the month.

HRR plans to expand to at least 30 staff members when the East Hawaii and Waimea shelters are finally in the fold: an increase of approximately three times their current payroll. Until that time arrives, HRR is focused on ways to increase services within the scope of its interim budget.

“We are still continuing to make efforts through development and other forms to continue to provide increased services,” Lippincott said. “The budget stays the same, which does affect things like staffing levels. But we’re trying to find more and more creative solutions that we wanted to implement anyways now as opposed to maybe waiting to hold those later as we go.”

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Hawaii Rainbow Rangers can be reached at (808) 666-9589 regarding complaints and to request services for animals. Phones will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Messages left will be responded to as soon as possible, inclusive of those concerning lost pets.

To make an appointment for adoptions or to view current shelter pets, or to volunteer or donate, visit www.HIRangers.org.

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