Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023|
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A new Hawaii County animal control agency will be formed in July, bringing with it 45 new county jobs.
The Hawaii Police Department took over the county’s animal control duties in 2021 after the county terminated its contract with Hawaii Rainbow Rangers, the previous contract holder.
But after nearly two years, County Council members introduced in February a bill that would create a dedicated Animal Control and Protection Agency.
The bill stipulates that the agency will be made up of an administrator, who answers to the county managing director, and an unspecified number of staff. A companion resolution introduced and passed at Wednesday’s County Council meeting set that number at 45 civil service positions.
County Finance Director Deanna Sako said the jobs would be permanent positions, since temporary positions offered during the police department’s animal control efforts have not been attractive to prospective employees.
Police Maj. Aimee Wana said the jobs include administrative positions, kennel technicians and more.
The county will allocate $2 million to the new agency, the same amount currently allocated to the police department for their animal control services.
Several members of the public expressed concerns about the new agency, however, with some urging the council for more transparency regarding greater animal control.
“Prior to HPD taking over animal control operations, the services were contracted out to vendors,” wrote Lori Johnson. “For several of these years, the euthanasia rate was unacceptably high — way out of line with not only industry, but also moral standards.
And, now, with HPD responsible for operations, we are all aware of the issues of inadequate service, and lack of performance and progress.”
Lauren Foo wrote that only through greater cooperation with the community can the island’s animal overpopulation be brought under control.
“We must take proactive measures to address the root causes of animal overpopulation,” Foo wrote, “which include promoting spay and neuter programs, educating the public on responsible animal ownership, and providing support for local animal shelters and rescue organizations. These measures are essential to reducing the number of animals that end up in shelters and rescue organizations in the first place.”
The bill passed unanimously with an amendment proposed by Hilo Councilwoman Jenn Kagiwada requiring the agency to make biannual reports to the County Council about its activities.
Email Michael Brestovansky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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