Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation

Dog rescue organization gives refuge in a sea of unwanted dogs.

By | Posted: Mar 27, 2013, 8 a.m. EDT

Photo courtesy H.A.R.FDawn Hall founded Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation with the goal of stemming the number of stray dogs on the islands of Oahu and Maui.

A broken collarbone doesn’t derail Dawn Hall in her drive to save the dogs of Hawaii. Even injured, Hall works tirelessly to coordinate adoption events and rescues with her group, the Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation, headquartered in Puunene, Hawaii. She refuses to blame anyone for the rampant stray dog problem on the islands of Maui and Oahu, and instead focuses on finding a way to fix that problem, every day, every week.

"Our attitude is not about who is right or wrong. It’s about saving a life. That’s what matters,” Hall says. "The more we can chip in and do it together, the more successful we will be.”

Along with partners Penny Dearborn and Cynthia Merriman, Hall founded H.A.R.F. in March 2011 as a way to save unwanted dogs and become the area’s first no-kill resource. Since then, H.A.R.F. has rescued and/or rehomed 700 dogs. Each day, Hall lives and breathes her mission to save even more.

"We all love animals. We know how many are getting put down. And we can’t stand it,” she says. "If we all did a little something, no matter what it was, then it would change the world.”

The vast majority of H.A.R.F.’s dogs come from the crowded Maui Humane Society, mainly off their euthanasia list. In nearly two years, thanks to H.A.R.F., the shelter’s euthanasia rate has dropped by 40 percent, Hall says. 

H.A.R.F., which does not have a brick-and-mortar facility, relies on a total of nearly 100 volunteers on both the islands of Maui and Oahu to foster the dogs in their homes. This gives H.A.R.F. the chance not only to love and train the dogs, but also to learn their personalities and quirks.

"That has made all the difference in the world,” in setting up successful owner/dog pairings, Hall says.

Every weekend, H.A.R.F. hosts numerous adoption events in neighborhoods on both islands. To help promote and publicize its efforts,  H.A.R.F. often hosts education programs in classrooms, teaching the next generation about animal responsibility as well as the importance of spaying and neutering -- an extremely dismissed and misunderstood process  in this multicultural community.

"If you can get to the kids, within a generation you can see your (unwanted) animal numbers go down drastically,” Hall says.

Until that time, Hall and her team of volunteers -- who all wear T-shirts with the name "Lifesaver” on the front -- work tirelessly to get dogs such as Hina adopted. 

For six months, this large, nearly black pit bull-type mix waited with a foster family until an 8-year-old boy set eyes on her. For three hours, he sat by Hina’s kennel at an adoption event. Turns out, the young boy was an only child, lacking friends and self-confidence. His mother confided to the volunteers that her son had many fears and suffered from extreme shyness. But he really loved this dog, which the family adopted.

Eight months later, the family came by another adoption event to visit. And things were 100 percent different. The mom cried as she related how happy her son was with Hina, how his personality and confidence blossomed, and how he finally had friends. And his best friend? Hina, of course.

"They picked each other, and it was the perfect match,” Hall says.

For more information about Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation and to find out how you can help, visit hawaiianimalrescue.org

The efforts of Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation to aid and rescue dogs inspired FreeKibble.com, a website dedicated to providing nutritious food to shelter animals, to donate 5,000 meals to H.A.R.F.

Read more dog rescue and adoption stories>>


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liantsim   Waterloo, IA

3/31/2013 10:35:25 AM

What a wonderful thing they are doing

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Peggy   Kula, Hawaii

3/27/2013 7:08:29 PM

I'm a loyal volunteer for HARF and without a physical shelter,it's amazing how we have rehomed so many animals. Penny,Dawn and Cynthia are saints and I' m proud to be part of this organization

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