POSTED: 10:03 a.m. HST, May 12, 2014
HOOLEHUA, Hawaii >> Organizers trying to bring Molokai its first open-admission animal shelter are suspending their efforts after problems with expensive real estate and permitting.
The Maui News reports that staff members of Shields Animal Shelter Foundation will no longer pursue the shelter after spending two years and more than $200,000 in travel and other expenses.
Debi Buechel, the foundation's executive director, said the cheapest suitable property was $600,000 and state and local regulations would mean delays.
"Even if we did find a place, it would be another five years before we could even put up a building," Buechel said.
Buechel was pursuing the shelter in honor of a friend, Kathleen Shields, who died in 2009 and left an endowment to start the foundation. Shields frequently visited Molokai and requested in her will that the money be used for the shelter on the island.
Buechel said she pursued county funding to help get the shelter up and running. But she was told it was unlikely because most Maui County funds for animals go to the Maui Humane Society, which operates the county's only open-admission shelter. Maui County includes three islands.
Officials for the state and local humane societies say the shelter is needed in a state where animal abandonment is a problem, but establishing one is difficult to make work on an island with about 7,000 people.
Buechel said she hopes she can make it work someday, but she can't justify spending more of the foundation's money when other places need help.
"We're not giving up," she said. "If things change and the economy changes, maybe in a few years things will be better on Molokai and I'll have an opportunity to find a piece of property."