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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 9, 2006

Trained volunteers assist with animal's behavior problems

By Hawaiian Humane Society

“I love this job,” says Hawaiian Humane Society Helpline volunteer Pamela DaGrossa. She says it’s gratifying to help pet adopters resolve problems they’ve encountered with their animal companions.

Hawaiian Humane Society

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  • Owners of adopted pets may call 942-7297, leaving a message explaining the problem.

  • Trained volunteers listen to the message and determine what information to mail first.

  • About five days later, a Helpline volunteer calls the pet owner to discuss the pet's behavior, the information offered and how to proceed.

  • Assistance will continue until a conclusion is reached. In almost every case, problems are resolved and the pet remains in the home.

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    The Hawaiian Humane Society's Helpline is a special service available to those who adopt their pets from the society. Families with questions about their adopted pet's behavior can call the number and receive answers by mail and phone.

    "Adopting a pet is the beginning of a wonderful lifelong relationship," said Marty Hutchins, coordinator of the society's Shelter Animal Behavior Program. "Sometimes that partnership can benefit from our expertise, so pets and people live in harmony."

    Coordinated by Hutchins and staffed by a dozen volunteers, the Helpline assists pet owners with a wide range of problems, such as introducing a new cat to other cats in a household, helping pets feel more comfortable in new surroundings, and litter-box and crate-training tips.

    Pamela DaGrossa began volunteering with the society seven years ago as an adoptions assistant.

    "With each adoption, I knew another animal found a home," said DaGrossa, who is now an adoptions counselor. "For the past two years I have counseled adopters through the Helpline. There is intensive training to assess behavioral problems and recommend actions. I love this job! I have even applied what I learned to my own cat, Lomi, who no longer ambushes me as I walk down the hall.

    "People seem to enjoy having a sympathetic ear where they can talk out their problem. And hearing about their successful results later is gratifying for me."

    But DaGrossa said her biggest reward as a Helpline volunteer is making "a positive difference in the lives of pets and their families."

    The Helpline is just one part of the shelter's animal behavior program, which began training animals in the fall of 2001.

    "Great people/pet relationships are forged when families begin with realistic expectations for their new four-legged members," Hutchins said. "We help them understand that it is natural behavior for a dog to chew, dig, jump and bark. Training helps a dog know when these behaviors are acceptable and when they are not. Cats, too, can exhibit actions that need to be redirected. Positive training is the key to keeping animals and their families together."

    The program has taught good manners to more animals, resulting in more adoptions of homeless animals and more families enjoying a wonderful relationship with their pets.

    "We hope that people who are thinking of adding a companion animal will come meet our wonderful pets, and that those who have a pet will take advantage of resources we offer, helping their good pets become great companions," said Pamela Burns, Hawaiian Humane Society CEO and president.

    If you've adopted your pet from the society, you can call the Helpline at 942-7297 for solutions to your pet's challenging behavior.

    People with pets not adopted from the Hawaiian Humane Society can visit the shelter to choose from an array of brochures that can build a great relationship with a family pet. Other free training information is available in the "Pet Care & Advice" section at www.hawaii anhumane.org.



    Tag No. 89551 Take a Chance! This shy guy would like to join a quiet household where he'll feel safe and loved. He's already neutered, up to date on vaccinations and has a microchip ID. His handsome coat is tan and orange with white accents and white socks.


    Tag No. 89519 Here's a solid black basenji/chow mix looking for a loving home. At 2 years old, Betty is full-grown and still a smallish medium-size dog. She would enjoy an active family that will teach her good manners and keep her busy with toys and playtime.

    These animals may have already found homes. The Hawaiian Humane Society and McInerny Dog Park at 2700 Wai'alae Ave. are open daily. For hours, directions, special events and to see more pets available for adoption, see www.hawaiianhumane.org or call 946-2187. Call immediately to report lost and/or found animals.