'I was crying hysterically': Maui residents search for missing pets after deadly fires

Published August 16th 2023

LAHAINA, Hawaii – Lahaina residents Luxmi and Mike Quall arrived full of hope at Maui Humane Society on Tuesday to pick up their lost dog, Hilo. The Quall’s home burned to the ground, and they feared Hilo, a whippet greyhound mix, had also perished with the house.

Luxmi Quall filed a missing pet report with the Maui Humane Society and created a post on a “Missing Pets of Maui” Facebook group. At 8:30 p.m. on Monday, she received a Facebook message from someone with screenshots of her dog, Hilo.

“I was crying hysterically. We were trying to drive home from a friend’s place so we had to pull over because we just couldn’t believe it,” Luxmi Quall said.

It’s estimated that 3,000 animals are lost or missing following the Maui wildfires, which nearly destroyed the historic area of Lahaina, and some are being found with severe burns and smoke inhalation. Some pets have injuries so severe they are unrecognizable, which makes reunification even more difficult.

Thousands of pets missing in Maui

As of Monday, the Maui Humane Society had received 367 lost animal reports and are working to “reunite every animal with its owner, in any way we can,” said Katie Shannon, director of marketing and communications at Maui Humane Society.

“We are scanning for microchips for any animals that we are finding, whether live or deceased and making sure that we can provide the closure necessary for those that, unfortunately, haven’t made it,” Shannon said.

Maui Humane Society created a Facebook group with nearly 6,400 members to help connect owners with missing pets. They’re also encouraging residents to file a lost or found report to keep track of which animals still need to be found and connected with their loved ones.

Before the fires, the organization was overcapacity, meaning they had no kennels left to house pets harmed by the fire. However, the community rallied together to foster the pets and make space for found animals, Shannon said.

“Yesterday, we had 52 animals that had come in from Lahaina, and we’ve been able to reunite eight of those animals with their owners,” Shannon said. “We have cats who almost look unrecognizable. So, they might have a very different type of coat. We have no idea if they were long-haired or short-haired.”

The Qualls showed the link to Hilo’s profile on the Maui Humane Society’s page to a worker who went into the shelter to look for Hilo. Ten painstakingly long minutes later, the worker came back with bad news. Hilo was not there. The Qualls had mistaken a lost report for Hilo as a found report.

The Qualls thanked the staff and walked back to their car silently. Their search for Hilo continues.

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