Where We Stand

Hawaiian Humane Society Position Statements

The Hawaiian Humane Society is dedicated to promoting the human-animal bond and the humane treatment of all animals. In support of our mission and work as an animal welfare organization, we embrace the following positions:

Guiding Principles

Hawaiian Humane Society supports the Socially Conscious Animal Community framework, which emphasizes shared responsibility and collaboration in support of people and their pets. Socially Conscious Sheltering reflects the following commitments, which are designed to facilitate the best outcomes for homeless companion animals in animal shelters:

  • Ensure every unwanted or homeless pet has a safe place to go for shelter and care.
  • Place every healthy and safe animal.
  • Assess the medical and behavioral needs of homeless animals and ensure these needs are thoughtfully addressed.
  • Align shelter policy with the needs of the community.
  • Alleviate suffering and making appropriate euthanasia decisions.
  • Enhance the human-animal bond through safe placements and post adoption support.
  • Consider the health, wellness and safety of animals for each community when transferring animals between communities.
  • Foster a culture of transparency, ethical decision making, mutual respect, continual learning and collaboration.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Throughout our history, Hawaiian Humane Society has been committed to creating a more compassionate community for animals and people alike. From our early days of providing a safe haven for single mothers and orphaned children to today’s open pet adoption policies and services to assist pet owners in need, Hawaiian Humane has embraced social justice–the proposition that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. We will work to advance the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Five Freedoms

Hawaiian Humane Society supports the Five Freedoms of humane animal care:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst;
  • Freedom from discomfort;
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease;
  • Freedom to express normal behavior; and
  • Freedom from fear and distress

Humane Treatment

Hawaiian Humane Society teaches and promotes humane treatment for every every living creature in the belief that each one has intrinsic value. Animal groups fall along a continuum of values. Animal welfare groups, like ours, believe animals should be treated humanely and we actively work to protect then from cruelty, neglect and suffering. For details on where we stand on specific Humane Treatment topics, see below:


    Hawaiian Humane Society opposes all blood sports. Practices such as cockfighting and dog-fighting should be eliminated. They cause acute suffering and physical harm to animals and desensitize children and adults to the value of life. Such organized and willful abuse of animals is contrary to the values of a humane, aware and caring society.


    Hawaiian Humane Society supports methods that use positive reinforcement and rewards to train animals. We oppose the use of physical or psychological punishment for behavior modification.


    Wild or undomesticated animals have well-established psychological, behavioral and environmental needs. Hawaiian Humane opposes confining animals in ways that fail to meet these needs an opposes using wild animals in entertainment such as wildlife shows, circuses and fairs.

    Hawaiian Humane Society opposes animal contests that cause the neglect, abuse or exploitation of animals. These events desensitize people to animal suffering. We oppose any practice that may cause pain, suffering, injury or death to any animal in activities such as advertising, rodeos and circuses.


    Hawaiian Humane Society opposes the use of animals for experimentation unless there are no alternatives and only when the experiment is likely to produce new and valuable information. Laboratory practices should minimize stress and eliminate suffering to the greatest degree possible. We support laws governing the use of animals in research, testing and teaching that will ensure that the physiological and behavioral needs of the animals are met to the greatest extent possible. We advocate for the development and use of alternatives to animal-based research, with the ultimate goal being the elimination of harmful research on animals. We support the Hawaiʻi law that prohibits the procurement of animals for experimentation from shelters. We strongly discourage the cloning of domestic animals for companionship due to the significant overpopulation of companion animals.


    Hawaiian Humane Society supports the enforcement and strengthening of laws and the implementation of humane standards for animals in every phase of animal-based food production. We oppose “factory farming” and any other practice that treats animals as inanimate commodities. All animal handling up to and including the slaughter process must be done using the least stressful and most painless methods available.


    Hawaiian Humane Society only supports housing animals in the classroom if the animals have owners committed to their proper and life-long care.


    Hawaiian Humane Society is committed to making carefully considered euthanasia decisions based on a compassionate evaluation of the health, well-being and quality of life of the animal as well as the availability of resources to meet the animal’s needs. Indefinite confinement, isolation or indiscriminate placement are not acceptable alternatives for animals whose behavior poses a safety threat. Hawaiian Humane opposes making euthanasia decisions based on the breed of an animal or as a means of shelter population control. Hawaiian Humane Society has no time limit for how long animals can remain in our care. When euthanasia is necessary, the procedure must be carried out with respect and kindness, and performed in accordance with the guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association (dated January 17, 2020) and national sheltering standards (as of 2021).


    Hawaiian Humane Society opposes trophy hunting and trophy fishing, which exploit animals solely for entertainment. We support Hawaiʻi law prohibiting cruelty to animals by trapping.

    The method used for any hunting should be the one that provides the quickest death possible. While we do not oppose the use of hunting dogs to spot, track or flush prey, we support requirements that hunting dogs must be under the control of their owner at all times. We oppose the training of dogs to injure other animals. Training dogs to attack prey poses a danger to human bystanders, subjects bait animals to often fatal abuse and puts the hunting dogs themselves at serious risk of injury and death. Dogs used for hunting should receive nutritious food, clean water, safe shelter, veterinary care and sufficient socialization with people to allow for safe handling and acceptable quality of life.


    All long-distance transportation of animals should include adequate opportunity for rest, adequate food and water, space, temperature control and clean shipping conditions. All efforts should be made to minimize stress, transport time and time awaiting shipment. Hawaiian Humane Society supports the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement guidelines (dated March 2019) for animal transport best practices.


    Hawaiian Humane Society opposes the sale of novelty pets such as chicks, ducks and reptiles. Many of these animals are acquired on impulse by people unprepared to meet their special needs. As a result, animals suffer immediately from lack of proper care and are often surrendered or abandoned as their novelty value diminishes.

    We support Hawaiʻi’s laws against keeping exotic pets. Undomesticated birds, reptiles, hedgehogs, monkeys, exotic cats and other species, whether wild caught or captive bred, are not suitable as companion animals because it is not possible to address these animals’ behavioral and psychological needs in captivity.


    Hawaiian Humane Society believes that the breeding of pets should only be done if responsible guidelines to ensure healthy animals are followed and there is a certainty that the resulting animals will be placed with responsible owners. We caution would-be pet owners against viewing breed registries as a guarantee of good health or behavior.

    The Hawaiian Humane Society opposes puppy mills, which are high-volume commercial operations that prioritize profits above animal welfare. Puppies produced in puppy mills are more prone to disease due to poor nutrition, inadequate medical care and the stress of being shipped long distances at a young age. Puppy mill breeders generally ignore the behavior traits or physical problems of the parents, leading to the perpetuation of congenital disorders or undesirable and sometimes even dangerous behaviors


    Hawaiian Humane Society urges would-be pet owners to obtain animals from shelters, pet stores who offer shelter animals for adoption, or responsible breeders. Responsible shelters and breeders will welcome animals back if they are not a good fit for their new family. Retail outlets and online sellers may obtain animals from irresponsible local breeders, foreign puppy mills or from the wild. The welfare of the individual animal may not be a priority and many retailers provide no education about the special needs of each animal or possible health concerns. We support regulations that require humane standards of care for the breeding, display, transportation and sale of animals.


    Hawaiian Humane Society opposes unnecessary surgical procedures performed for cosmetic purposes or to disguise natural imperfections; and done for the convenience of the owner without regard to the well-being of the animal. Surgical procedures that are rarely medically necessary include declawing, debarking and the docking of ears and tails. All surgical procedures should be performed by or under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.


    Hawaiian Humane Society opposes the destruction of wild animals as a means of population control unless all other strategies have been exhausted. Lethal control, when absolutely necessary, should be performed using methods that minimize stress and pain, and result in the quickest death possible. We oppose the use of poisons or other methods that cause suffering. We support preventative measures, such as predator-proof fencing, to protect sensitive habitat. We advocate humane methods of bird control, including roost area modification, birth control and proper disposal of garbage and waste.


    Hawaiian Humane Society recognizes the benefit of using domesticated animals in certain lines of work. When horses and dogs are employed in agriculture, law enforcement, property protection, search and rescue, or military service; they must be humanely raised, trained and afforded every consideration for their safety and well-being. We recognize the benefit of using cats to manage rodents in agricultural or commercial settings provided that the cats are spayed/neutered and microchipped to an owner committed to their care. All working animals should receive nutritious food, clean water, safe shelter, veterinary care and sufficient socialization with people to allow for safe handling and an acceptable quality of life. Appropriate retirement must be provided to animals who are no longer able to work.


    Human-Animal Bond

    Hawaiian Humane Society’s slogan, “People for Animals. Animals for People,” reflects our deep commitment to the human-animal bond. We believe that the compassionate and responsible care of animals develops caring humans, and that condoning violence toward animals desensitizes people toward the abuse of both animals and people. For details on where we stand on specific Human-Animal Bond topics, see below:


    The human-animal bond forms in many different ways, including between people and pets given as gifts. Hawaiian Humane Society urges those considering giving pets as gifts to carefully consider the needs of the animals and the lifestyles of the recipients to help ensure a good match. It is also best to adopt from an organization that will welcome back animals if they are not a good fit, or to buy from a responsible breeder who will welcome animals back and find them new homes.


    Hawaiian Humane Society opposes policies that discriminate against certain dog breeds. Such policies include breed bans and discriminatory regulation, insurance underwriting, community bylaws and housing requirements. Breed bans also infringe on the rights of responsible dog owners, who may be forced to give up their dogs or their housing.


    The Hawaiian Humane Society views the human-animal bond as beneficial and therapeutic. We advocate for responsible owners to be allowed to have animals in commercial spaces if acceptable to the business owner, in residential care facilities and in public places such as parks, trails and beaches.


    We do not believe anyone should ever have to choose between having a home and keeping a pet. Hawaiian Humane Society advocates for pet friendly housing and encourages landlords and property managers to reject restrictions based on size, breed or species. These factors do not reflect an animal’s temperament or ability to be a good neighbor.


    The use of companion animals to help people with special needs can foster bonds beneficial to both people and animals – including service animals, comfort animals, and those making pet visitations. Hawaiian Humane Society supports programs that provide positive benefits to animals and people and that balance the needs of both. Hawaiian Humane opposes misrepresenting untrained companion animals as service animals and affirms federal Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act regulations regarding service and assistance animals.


    Hawaiian Humane Society believes that anyone can be a responsible pet owner, regardless of income or housing status. Companion animals fare best when people make a well-considered decision to accept the responsibilities of ownership and commit to provide life-long care. Responsible pet ownership also includes adhering to all animal-related laws; making sure the emotional, medical and physical needs of animals are met; providing pets with sufficient training that they are welcome members of our community; providing pets with microchip and visible identification to ensure they can find their way home if lost; making responsible rehoming decisions when owners are no longer able to care for their pets; and establishing a plan to provide for the ongoing care of their pets should the pets survive their owner.


    Community Engagement

    The Socially Conscious Animal Community framework invites all community stakeholders to work together and achieve better outcomes for people and their pets. Hawaiian Humane Society seeks to work with these partners – including shelters, rescue groups, policy makers, law enforcement, media, veterinarians, behavior professionals, human-animal service providers and community members – to address the most critical animal issues in our community. Community engagement and education are at the core of what we do and include advocating for people and animals in the community, in government, in the private and nonprofit sectors, and one by one with individual people. For details on where we stand on specific Community Engagement topics, see below:


    Hawaiian Humane Society believes the protection of animals at risk in disasters and other crises is a responsibility of government as animals are valued family members and not providing for their care can put people at unnecessary risk. Hawaiian Humane Society partners with government agencies to rescue animals in crises and to ensure emergency shelters are pet-friendly. We urge pet owners to include their pets in their personal disaster preparedness plans and offer information to help them prepare for emergencies.


    Hawaiian Humane Society recognizes that Free-Roaming cats in Hawaiʻi are at risk of illness, injury and abuse; that they can negatively impact wildlife and the environment; and that they can pose a nuisance for humans in their places of work and residence. We are working toward a day when all cats have a safe place to live and proper care. We support trap-neuter-return-manage (TNRM) as a humane approach to reducing the Free-Roaming cat population over time. We advocate proper disposal of garbage and waste, as well as the use of humane deterrents to minimize nuisance issues. We are committed to public education on abandonment and the benefits of keeping pet cats indoors, as well as rigorous enforcement of pet desertion laws.


    Hawaiian Humane Society urges all Hawaiʻi schools (preschool through the 12th grade) to include humane education programs and the teaching of kindness and respect for all living things. Hawaiian Humane Society provides humane education curricula for school teachers and regularly offers community educational presentations for all age groups.


    Pet overpopulation is a community-wide issue that requires community-based solutions. Hawaiian Humane Society advocates and implements the three-fold strategy of legislation, education and spay/neuter to address pet overpopulation.

    Hawaiian Humane Society advocates for government funding in support of no-fee or low-fee spay/neuter. We educate the public regarding the benefits of spay/neuter, which provides pets with longer, healthier lives; and enhances the human-animal bond by making pets better companions for their human family members. We support the spay/neuter of all dogs, cats and rabbits offered for adoption; and provide access to low-fee, donor-subsidized spay/neuter for owned dogs and cats, as well as Free-Roaming cats, through our Community Spay/Neuter Center.


    Hawaiian Humane Society educates local, state and federal lawmakers on legislation affecting animals. We will draft, support, oppose or otherwise take a mission-centered position on such legislation, with priority placed on measures having the greatest relevance to the people and animals of Oʻahu. Hawaiian Humane Society does not support or endorse any candidate or political party and does not take a public position on any issue unless it directly impacts animal welfare or the mission statement of our organization.