When the pandemic reduced flights to and from Hawaii last spring one little-known impact was that on our local animal shelters. Many island shelters and rescues rely on transport of dogs and cats to the continental US for placement options when no adopters are found locally. The cancellation of flights reduced the availability of space for pets to catch a ride. Shelters across the state made every effort to foster and house the increasing number of animals but many reported this was reducing their capacity to help other animals in need.
Greater Good Charities (GGC) stepped in to assist and coordinate an unprecedented rescue flight in this time of emergency. GGC had previously supported the Hawaii community by donating thousands of pounds of pet food since the pandemic began. A multi-organization effort supported by HIEMA and HVMA resulted in the safe transport of nearly 600 dogs and cats from Hawaii to Seattle. On October 28 a charter Hercules C-130 cargo plane flew from Oakland, CA to Lihue, then Honolulu, Kahului and Hilo picking up animals along the way. All pets were examined by a veterinarian and given a health certificate prior to the flight and a large team including veterinarians were available at Boeing Field in Seattle to ensure the animals were comfortable and healthy on arrival. Many pets were adopted within days of arrival. For more information and photos and video on the largest ever pet rescue flight visit GGC Paws Across the Pacific Page.
This is the first part of an emergency support effort from GGC that will include providing emergency sheltering supplies, disaster sheltering training and more to area animal welfare organizations.
Mahalo to the sponsors who helped make it happen: The Animal Rescue Site, Banfield Foundation, Royal Canin, VCA Animal Hospitals, PEDIGREE Foundation, Petco Foundation, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation, MuttNation Foundation, Kamaka Air Inc, Air Charter Service, and Jackson Galaxy.
I write this with a bit of sadness knowing we are missing our usual opportunity to see friends and colleagues at the annual meeting. This year has brought challenges like no other in our lifetimes and our connection to one another has helped us all adapt and find ways to continue our very important work. I hope you can all join us at our virtual meeting Saturday 11/14, and that we can resume in person gatherings in the not too distant future.
The HVMA Executive Board continues to advocate for members and the animals and people of Hawaii. We have continued our meetings virtually and uninterrupted during this time. Your membership dues are essential in maintaining our ability to continue as an organization so please renew if you have not already done so.
Our involvement as a supporting agency to the state and counties during emergencies has also continued. As flights outside the state were reduced in March the opportunities for adoption placement outside the state became extremely limited. Shelters across Hawaii have relied on out of state transport for adoption placement when local opportunities are exhausted. The lack of flights put our local shelters at risk of being beyond their capacity and reducing their ability to help other animals in need. Greater Good Charities responded to a request for assistance to transport pets to the continental US. They have coordinated an unprecedented flight of dogs and cats to animal welfare organizations in the pacific northwest. Many of the pets have adoptive homes already before they even land! This is an effort we have supported closely working with HI-EMA, GGC, Wings of Rescue and shelters from Kauai, Oahu, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii Island. This has also provided the opportunity for further disaster planning, collaboration and training for the state, our association and local animal welfare organizations.
It has been an honor to serve as the HVMA President the last two years and I will continue to support the association as I move on to the role of Past President. Please do not hesitate to reach out if there is anything the HVMA can do to support your work as veterinarians in Hawaii.
I hope this message finds you all well. This has been a challenging year so far for us all, regardless of practice type. The support from one another has made a significant positive impact on the ability to be more resilient in the face of incredible uncertainty and change.
The HVMA Executive Board has been working hard to provide support for members, the veterinary community in general as well as the animals and people of Hawaii. We are coming up with creative solutions to continue to provide continuing education opportunities, increase connection between members, and are participating in the emergency response in partnership with HI-EMA. Please be sure to renew your membership. Even though the annual conference will not be as we hoped in 2020, we are still working hard on your behalf and your dues help keep this organization going.
Since March HVMA has received donations of 2 containers of dog/cat food as well as coupons for several thousand bags of food from Greater Good. The Humane Society of the United States donated the cost of transportation of a recent shipment. This food is available to pet owners suffering from COVID-related financial hardship through community foodbanks and human service agencies. We have also shared food with local humane societies for their pet food banks. We are currently supporting efforts to secure donations of feed for horses whose owners are also suffering from financial hardship. And during all of this we are working with HI-EMA in disaster response as needed, most recently in the hurricane near miss (thankfully).
While we were trying to flatten the curve, reduce the spread of COVID and continue our practice of veterinary medicine we were confronted with another painful reality. A bystander recorded the murder of George Floyd on a public street and the experience that exists for so many people became impossible to avoid any longer. Some may ask what does this have to do with veterinary medicine? A video recently released by the Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association in partnership with 9 other diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) affinity organizations highlights the existence of racism and discrimination in our profession. The video was shared at the AVMA HOD meeting last week and I highly encourage everyone to watch it. We are fortunate in Hawaii to live in a place with greater diversity than most, but we are not exempt from racism. There is a need to become more informed as individuals and take action to change the lack of diversity and presence of racism in the profession. For more information including resources, links to other affinity organizations, and how to get involved visit https://www.mcvma.org/wakeup.
The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) has also recognized the importance of increasing diversity and states that “racism is a public health issue, and every sector of society has a role to play in finding a cure.” Visit the AAVMC’s website for more information on what steps they are doing to increase diversity in our profession. They host a podcast shared on a youtube and soundcloud channel for those interested in becoming more informed, links can be found here https://www.aavmc.org/diversity/diversity-and-inclusion-on-air.
If you have feedback on what the HVMA can do to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in veterinary medicine in Hawaii please contact me.
I hope this finds you, your ohana, staff and colleagues in good health. I don’t think any of us would have predicted the rapid changes that have occurred across the planet since the January newsletter. Normal as we knew it and our regular daily operations feel like a bit of a distant memory right now. But thankfully in every dark cloud there are many silver linings.
Veterinarians, like other public health stewards, are trained problem solvers and we have been working hard to solve our problems, from those at home to in our businesses and in our communities. I have been amazed seeing the innovation and effort by Hawaii veterinarians as they work to protect their teams, ensure care for animals in need and service to the people of Hawaii and beyond.
The HVMA has been working hard on behalf of members and the animals and citizens of Hawaii during the pandemic. We have proactively and successfully advocated for more flexible use of telemedicine during this challenging time to maintain care for animals while keeping people safe. We have set up a Facebook group for Hawaii veterinarians to keep in touch and share with one another and have hosted weekly virtual meetings where we discuss the current knowledge about SARS CoV-2, its impact on animals and practices. We responded to a request for assistance from HI-EMA and City and County of Honolulu to support pet owners during this emergency. During this time, we have spent many hours each week participating in HI-EMA and Honolulu Department of Emergency Management calls to ensure animal needs are met. The HVMA was able to secure a grant from Greater Good of 22 pallets of dog and cat food and 4 pallets of litter to be used for COVID-related emergency sheltering or for pet owners in need due to financial hardship so many are currently facing. The shipping to Hawaii was graciously donated by a local business and The Salvation Army was instrumental in coordinating the food delivery from California. It has been delivered to animal shelters and human food service distribution partners on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island. We will continue to seek support for pet owners in financial distress so that they can continue to care for their family members during this challenging time. We know the importance of the human-animal bond is perhaps more important than ever during this time of social distancing.
I encourage you to reach out to us if there is anything, we can do to support your work and businesses. More than at any other time it is essential that we are caring for ourselves and doing what we can to stay healthy. Get lots of sleep, eat good food, enjoy the beautiful outdoors when you can and make time for self-care. We cannot care for others if we do not first care for ourselves. If you have been contemplating taking up meditation for a long time now and need a reason this is a good one. Just sitting quietly and breathing for a brief time can work wonders to help manage the stressful times a little bit better. Take care of your families and colleagues as well. Be kind to one another and give thanks to all of those working so hard to keep us safe. I feel so fortunate to be in a state that has done so much to protect its citizens. I also feel so fortunate to be surrounded by peers in a profession that is critical to preventing and solving this and the next zoonotic outbreak. The importance and need for veterinarians is greater now than ever.
On behalf of the board I wish you health and well-being in the rest of 2020 and beyond. I hope to hear more from you on what we can do to support you as a Hawaii veterinarian.
Are you a practice manager or owner who is hiring? Don’t forget that HVMA members can post job openings for free! Just go to the HVMA home page and select Classified Ads and then choose Place a Classified Ad from the drop down. Or go to https://hawaiivetmed.org/classifieds/place-ad/.
Are you a relief veterinarian offering services on one or more islands in Hawaii? One of the most common inquiries we get is how to find relief veterinarians. Add your name to the relief vet listing so practice owners/ managers can utilize your services. It is free with your HVMA membership and easy to do. Go to https://hawaiivetmed.org/classifieds/place-ad/ and add your information so people know how to find you! Ads expire every 6 months, so don’t forget to renew them to keep them active.
Pet Expo is sponsored and organized by the HVMA. It has been an annual event for over 25 years and is FREE, and well received by the public, with an average of 10,000 people attending each year. The purpose of the Expo is to promote responsible pet ownership and strengthen the bond between people and their pets through educational displays, live animal demonstrations, and the latest in pet services and products. The HVMA is looking for veterinarians who will promote our profession in a positive manner and educate the public on the need for professional veterinary care. They are there to promote the HVMA and it’s mission, but can pass out business cards and information if asked for. We would like vets who are willing to volunteer their time to promote our profession and who are willing to interact with the public, to sign up.
HVMA Booth: This year we are doing away with the “Ask A Vet” booth, although vets manning the booth will be there to answer any kind of question. The HVMA booth will be similar to last year’s theme: Common Household Dangers.
Make and Take (Kiddie Craft ) Booth: Assist kids and their parents with making finger puppets and other paper crafts, which they get to make and take home. Keep booth clean and organized.
Greeters: Pass out programs and poop bags at the door. Help to direct traffic in and out of the Exhibition hall. Smile and welcome people. Collect canned goods and monetary donations for the Hawaii Food Bank.
Information Booth: Help direct people to exhibits, answer questions, make announcements, box up food donations, make more poop bags, run errands, clean up pet messes that are reported or seen.
Show Marshalls: The “Poop Patrol”. Patrol Exhibition Hall and grounds outside, picking up pet messes. Empty overflowing trash and cigarette bins outside hall and transfer to dumpster in back. The good thing about show marshaling is that you get to walk around the hall and check out all the exhibits, although you are supposed to be working, not shopping during your shift! We always need a lot of show marshals.
If volunteers sign up by the deadline, a t-shirt will be ordered for them. Sizes are M, L, and XL; please indicate shirt size when signing up. If you sign up vets are encouraged to wear lab coats or smocks to identify themselves as vet professionals, name tags will be provided. They may also wear the Pet Expo tshirt.
Volunteers are needed for Friday night to help set up. (No AC on Friday night, wear shorts!)
Saturday and Sunday the shifts are as follows: 9:30-12:00 am, 11:30 to 2:00 pm, and 1:30 to 4:00 pm. Only the first shift will be provided a small lunch.
Volunteers should sign up by calling Dr. Kam or staff at Ohana Vet Hospital at 845-1762, or fax at 848-1632.
Pet Expo is right around the corner! Thousands of local families and their pets attend this annual event at the Blasidell Center on Mother’s Day weekend. As always, we need your help in representing the veterinary care component of responsible pet ownership. You and your support staff can make a difference in educating the public on the value and benefits of professional veterinary care. The HVMA will be hosting a booth on Common Household Dangers as well as a Kiddie Craft area. Please contact Dr. Lissa Kam at 845-1762 for more information or to sign up to help.
We are still looking for volunteers to help with our Membership outreach, Newsletter production, Website updates and Conference planning. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get involved.
On the national level, the American Veterinary Medical Association is also looking for volunteers for their committees including Animal Welfare, Food Safety Advisory, and Disaster and Emergency Issues. For a full list of positions and details on applying, please check out https://www.avma.org/Members/Volunteer/BecomeAVolunteer/Pages/Committee-Trust-Liaison-Positions-Available-April-2017.aspx.
Thanks to each of you for your hard work contributing to and bettering our communities. If you would like to highlight an opportunity or event you’re involved with, please email email@example.com. We are here to support and advocate for you!