Rainbow Rangers removed: Hawaii County assumes responsibility for animal control contract

  • Hawaii County has declined to extend Hawaii Rainbow Rangers’ animal control contract.

  • Mayor Mitch Roth

Effective today, Hawaii Rainbow Rangers is no longer Hawaii County’s animal control vendor.

The Hawaii Police Department, in coordination with Hawaii County’s Mayor Mitch Roth’s office, elected not to extend the animal control contract with Hawaii Rainbow Rangers (HRR) beyond June 30. The county had the option to extend the contract on a yearly basis for up to four years.

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“The decision to not extend the contract with the HRR was based on a myriad of issues, ranging from complaints about the caring of the animals that have been captured and their inability to provide the services required under the contract (i.e. animal control officers, timely responses, etc.),” HPD Chief Paul Ferreira said.

Ferreira specifically rebutted rumors circulating on social media claiming animals within animal control’s care will be euthanized en masse.

“Contrary to what is being spread on social media, there is no ‘mass euthanasia’ being planned for the animals currently in the facilities being operated under the animal control contract.”

Though the county council did not have a hand in this decision, they will be briefed by HPD and the mayor’s office in a July 6 county council committee meeting.

“There are crazy, wild rumors that the county council voted and decided to pull the Rainbow Rangers’ contract,” said Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas. “That is untrue.”

The abrupt end of the contract came just weeks after Hawaii Rainbow Rangers transitioned into providing full animal control services in May and about 10 days after a West Hawaii Today article was published outlining a variety of concerns raised since the nonprofit was awarded Hawaii Island’s animal control contract on July 24, 2020. Among them were abrupt changes in leadership and numerous allegations made by current and former HRR workers, including misused funds, illegal independent contractor agreements, unhealthy shelter conditions and unpaid bills.

The organization received $94,000 per month for interim services and just under $164,000 monthly for full services.

Moving forward, HPD is working to find organizations to help with the transition away from HRR. A request has been made for HRR to remain in place for at least 30 days to assist in this transition. The Hawaii Island Humane Society has been asked by the county to provide additional resources, as well.

“The Hawaii Island Humane Society is willing to assist us in animal control by transferring animals over to their care with the goal to create space for incoming strays at animal control facilities island-wide,” said Cyrus Johnasen, public information officer for the mayor’s office.

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According to the county, a temporary moratorium of animal intake is now in place, and animal control services are limited to the care of animals currently in facilities. Nonprofit organizations looking to help with the county’s transition are encouraged to contact HPD at hpdanimalcontrol@hawaiicounty.gov. Residents with concerns can contact the HPD non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

“Although we understand that the transition may be bumpy, we believe it is in the best interest of our community to move in that direction,” Mayor Mitch Roth said in a statement. “Our community and our trusted companions deserve better.”