Where to Adopt a Pet in Honolulu
Dogs, cats, birds, chickens and even guinea pigs are looking for furever homes. Here’s what you need to know about four places where you can find the next member of your family.
It seems a lot of us wanted company when we started to spend more time at home. Across the nation, demand for pet adoptions skyrocketed in 2020, so much so that Time Magazine named rescue dogs as its Pets of the Year.
I was no different. My husband and I adopted the dog we call our “first born,” a greyhound German shepherd mix—our veterinarian guesses—more than 10 years ago. In the past few months, we decided to get her a sibling. Amid stay-at-home orders and group size restrictions, many of Oʻahu’s animal-focused nonprofits saw the number of adoptions decrease, largely because appointment-only operations and event cancellations meant they saw fewer people. But it seems the trend is reversing.
So, if you are one of the many looking for a two- or four-legged pet, here is what you need to know about some of the nonprofits out there. Also note that several had to cut staff last year, so donations are always welcomed. And all welcome volunteers and foster families.
A group of friends formed the Fur-Angel Foundation in 2014 to rescue and find homes for unwanted dogs. It doesn’t have a shelter but works with foster families to take care of its canines on O‘ahu, from Ko Olina to Kāne‘ohe and up through the North Shore. The foundation did see an increase in adoption requests in 2020 and helped 61 go to new families.
The Process: The Fur-Angel Foundation lists available dogs on its website along with age, gender, breed and a little bit about their personalities. You can learn more about each animal on the foundation’s Instagram or Facebook page. Once you’re ready, even if you don’t have a specific dog in mind, fill out the fairly lengthy online form. In addition to basic home information, ages of those who live there and length of time at the address, you will also need to tell the foundation about any prior pets and what happened to them, plans for obedience classes, where the dog will sleep at night and provide at least two personal references. You are also required to have food, bowls, a collar, leash and crate before bringing a dog home.
How Long Will It Take? The foundation tries to process applications within five days. Then, you will have a phone consultation followed by a virtual home tour to ensure the space is safe and to go over how to care for your new pet. Once you bring the dog home, there is a seven-day trial period to see if you’re the right fit for each other. If all goes well, the adoption will be completed.
Fees: $275 helps to cover sterilization, microchip, vaccinations and deworming.
Hawaiʻi Dog Foundation
One of the newer groups on the block, the foundation formed in 2019 to work with homeless outreach group Aloha Animal Outreach. Hawai‘i Dog Foundation still focuses on pairing animals found at homeless camps with new families, but it also takes in strays and pets turned in by their owners. HDF doesn’t have a physical location. All animals live with foster families and volunteers take care of them until they are adopted; 101 were adopted in 2020.
The Process: The foundation posts photos of adoptable dogs on its website. We only found two listed this week: After fundraising events were canceled because of the pandemic, the foundation didn’t have enough money to accept as many dogs. But the foster families observe the animals closely around the clock, so HDF has the most extensive descriptions of each dog’s personalities both online and on its Instagram account. Fill out an adoption form—the website stresses every field must be completed—with basic information including your age, address, description of your home and yard and everyone living in the house. The foundation also asks situational questions including what circumstances would make you give up a dog and what you would do if you had trouble controlling it. The team will get in touch when it thinks it has a match.
Fees: $200 for dogs older than 1 year and $250 for puppies helps pay for microchips, sterilization, vaccinations and deworming.
What Else You Should Know: Hawai‘i Dog Foundation is starting events again. Starting Saturday, March 27, the folks there will bring available animals to Marine Corp Base Hawai‘i’s courtyard from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every month.
Hawaiian Humane Society
Located at that odd curve of Wai‘alae Avenue between Kaimukī and Mō‘ili‘ili, the 138-year-old nonprofit (one of its initial members was King David Kalākaua) is the best-known place to find a pet. Its list contains 18 categories of animals including chickens, turkeys, turtles, pigs, mice, chinchillas, guinea pigs and, of course, cats and dogs. From July through October 2020, people adopted more than 2,000 animals from the Humane Society. Kittens and puppies go quickly and there is a waiting list.
The Process: Hawaiianhumane.org posts pictures of animals up for adoption online in real time. We’ve seen animals disappear from the gallery while we were browsing. It’s worth visiting not only for the wide variety of available pets but for their creative names, too. (Our recent favorites so far have been a slate of Harry Potter-themed named cats and one unphotographed feline called “Catrick Swayze.”) Once you’re ready to move forward, make an appointment online. The form to fill out is the shortest of the bunch, requiring basic information including your name, the physical characteristics of the pet you’re seeking—for dogs it’s age, long or short hair, quiet or high energy—type of house and other pets or kids in the home. Someone from the Humane Society will follow up with a phone call; ours came the day of our appointment.
Even if you don’t fall in love with a pet online, make an in-person appointment. The Humane Society will bring you a few potential friends that fit your lifestyle. And we discovered that when puppies become available, the staff will alert people who have appointments for that day before going to the long waiting list. That’s how we ended up with our rambunctious 4-month-old hound-terrier mix.
How Long Will It Take? The Humane Society has a much bigger budget and a dedicated full-time staff along with volunteers so, as expected, you will get a response quickly. You can adopt with just a phone call but the Humane Society suggests current dog owners come in-person with their pet for a meet and greet. Once your application is approved, it could take several in-person appointments over a period of months to find the right fit or it could happen in just hours over the phone.
Fees: Range from $5 for fish to $350 for large parrots and sulcata tortoises and cover applicable vaccinations, sterilization, deworming and microchips. People 56 years and older can adopt older cats and dogs for free. The most popular are:
● $250 for puppies younger than 6 months
● $100 for dogs 7 months to 5 years and kittens under 6 months
● $50 for dogs 6 years and older and cats 7 months to 5 years
● $25 for older cats, dogs, turtles, mice and guinea pigs
What Else You Should Know: The Humane Society will soon launch a new mobile adoption van so people can meet animals in their own communities. It also just opened a branch in Waipahu to serve as a pet food bank and to offer information and support to owners in nearby neighborhoods.
The Wahiawā-based nonprofit was founded in 2009 as a shelter with a no-kill philosophy and is partially funded by Aloha United Way. It did see the number of adoptions decrease as events were canceled, some staff members were furloughed and the shelter shifted to appointments only. But numbers are on the way back up so far this year, meaning the SPCA will likely do more than the 400 adoptions in 2020.
The Process: You can see the dogs and cats up for adoption through the SPCA’s Facebook page. Click on the animal you are interested in to find out more about it, though we found that breed and age are often not part of the description. You can request a certain pet, but it isn’t required, when you fill out the rather lengthy form on oahuspca.org; an adoption coordinator will then go over the kind of pet you are looking for, what your living conditions are and other considerations. Once you are set, you’ll make an appointment for a meet and greet at the shelter. Adopters must be 21 years or older and the form requests information including how long you’ve lived at the current address, any plans to move, employment, other pets and even how much you are willing to spend on the animal.
How Long Will It Take? The group has had to reduce staff in the past year so, depending on demand at the time, it could take anywhere from a day to up to three weeks for someone to respond. Once you connect, some animals will be ready to go home with you the day you meet, but in other cases, the coordinator may want to schedule a home visit to ensure you are a match. The coordinator will go through the options when you talk.
Fees: Range from $150 to $500 and cover sterilization, vaccinations, a microchip and deworming.
● Puppies 3 months and younger, $500
● Puppies 3 to 6 months, $400
● Puppies 6 to 12 months, $350
● Dogs, $300
● Kittens 6 months and younger, $200
● Cats, $150
What Else You Should Know: The O‘ahu SPCA is not affiliated with the national organization so it does depend on local donations and volunteers to keep things running. It is always looking for foster families.
Paws of Hawai‘i
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Like Fur-Angel Foundation and Hawai‘i Dog Foundation, Paws of Hawai‘i depends on foster families to care for its pets instead of working out of a specific address. It formed in 2013.
The Process: Right now, Paws of Hawai‘i is only accepting adoption applications for specific dogs listed on its website. When we checked, we found fewer than five available; the rest were all in the process of adoption. The past year has left the group with fewer dogs available for adoption so those that are ready go quickly and general applications are not being taken. Follow the group on Instagram @pawsofhawaii for more immediate updates.
You can request a trial period for adult dogs, not for puppies. If you do go through with adoption and find you are not a good fit, Paws asks that you keep your animal for up to 10 working days to give them time to find a new family.
How Long Will It Take? Pawsofhawaii.org allows people 23 years and older to adopt. If you are 18 to 22 years old, you will need to volunteer with the organization to be considered. But generally, it takes as long as 10 days to process a form. Then, you will have a meet-and-greet session. The dog may be able to go home that day or within a few days.
The site also notes that the team prefers direct messages through the group’s Instagram or Facebook pages for the quickest response. I found someone did get back to me through Instagram right away.
Fees: $200 for dogs, $300 for puppies helps cover vaccinations, a microchip, deworming and sterilization.