The Campbell Industrial Park lease for the Oahu Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter was extended Wednesday, temporarily sparing it from closure.
The Oahu SPCA owes $97,578 in unpaid rent and would have been forced to relocate dozens of dogs and cats by May 31 when its lease was set to be terminated.
But landlord Aloha Petroleum gave the shelter an extension, although further details were not released by the company.
Oahu SPCA President Stephanie Ryan said the nonprofit organization has until August, but is negotiating with the company for a further extension while it acquires an undisclosed "centrally located" property for a permanent site for the shelter.
Ryan said the organization receives $400,000 annually in corporate and private donations, some of which comes in the form of food and other non-cash donations, but had secured a two-year rent-free lease agreement from October 2011 to October 2013 in exchange for improvements to the leased premises.
According to Ryan, the Oahu SPCA has paid the $4,000-a-month rent since October 2013, and has negotiated paying $1,000 a month for three years for a reduced amount of $36,000 in back rent.
Reporters and photographers arrived Wednesday at the shelter after being alerted to the problem and the need for people to foster the animals, which might have been left homeless in 10 days.
The shelter houses about 150 animals.
An April 29 Aloha Petroleum letter to Ryan said the lease would be terminated effective May 31, and that the Oahu SPCA was to vacate and surrender possession of the leased premises.
Ryan said the organization has purchased a prefabricated building in California for a new 7,200-square-foot shelter. She said she also needs time to secure a loan for one of two potential sites.
"This (Campbell Industrial Park) location is so remote," she said. "I learned the importance of being centrally located."
Aloha Petroleum has criticized its tenant for using water from a city fire hydrant and using generators for all its electrical needs.
Ryan said the fire hydrant was used for less than two weeks because the waterline to the shelter could not be found initially.
She said the generators are now hard-wired, and are used exclusively because it is cheaper than using electricity generated by Hawaiian Electric Co., which had denied service because of some "vandalized wires."
"I don’t think there’s a problem with that," she said.
According to the April 29 final notice of lease termination letter from Aloha Petroleum, the shelter owed back rent from Dec. 1, 2011, to Nov. 30, 2013, totaling $97,578.52. Aloha said it had offered rent abatement in exchange for improvements, but that Oahu SPCA failed to make any.
Ryan said she is an architect, and told Aloha that it could not complete one portion of the renovations because it could not be done the way it wanted.
Aloha noted the cesspool drainage pipe was clogged by debris from washing of pets, heavy laundering and cleaning of pens, and by trying to bypass the clogged drain by removing the cleanout cover from the drain, which caused flooding.
Comments poured in to a Facebook page started by former volunteer and donor Garnett Howard, 71, "to provide an uncensored forum for the exchange of questions, information and documents" about the Oahu SPCA. Many of the posts have been critical of Ryan and how the organization and shelter are run.
Ryan would not comment on the criticism.
She called police just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday asking officers to check on the animals because Facebook posts suggested people might be trying to remove them, according to police dispatches.
When asked Wednesday about the police call, Ryan said she made it because the overnight manager was off and she had no one to check on the situation, but was not fearful of any threat to the animals. She said the Facebook post was about needing people to foster the animals. She said she just didn’t want people to show up to try to adopt the animals when no one was around.
Some of the criticism stems from an alleged lack of transparency on how money is spent.
Ryan said the money is used for salaries to pay eight staffers (four full time, four part time), utilities, cleaning supplies, medication, veterinarian costs, including two part-time in-house veterinarians and outside services, free microchipping (at Petco), cat litter and much more.
She and board members are volunteers, and take no salary.
Oahu SPCA board member Audy Kimura said, "We can afford the rent. The need at any animal shelter is going to far outstrip the donations coming in. None of the shelters are perfect. However, we’re doing the best we can with the limited funds."
He said the organization has experienced growing pains, but that things are going well.
"Bottom line is the lives of the animals," Kimura said.
Volunteer Cyn Okido, who cleans kennels and walks the dogs three times a week, said: "We’re only here for the animals."
The 58-year-old, who retired early to devote more time at the shelter, said: "We don’t want to get involved in the politics. The shelter is less than optimal, and there are things to improve, but this is better than being on the street. Here they got meals, with people who take care of them."