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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 2, 2010

Plan pet care in case you're hospitalized

By Leslie Kawamoto

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Princess the pomeranian is in foster care while her companion recuperates in a nursing facility.

Photo by S. Argus

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The Oahu SPCA is in desperate need of donations: money, pet food, pet supplies, Simple Green and kitty litter. For more information, visit its website at www.oahuspca.org.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Max is a most patient rabbit who prefers human companionship.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Reggie is always ready for beach play.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The sound of birds is music to Mozartís ears.

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When owners fall ill, pets are often left behind.

Marlene Montiho lives in Chinatown, and her dog Princess is her constant companion.

Last month, Montiho became seriously ill with an infection. "I didn't feel well. Then, I started getting chest pains. I took my dog with me to the hospital, since she always goes with me," said Montiho.

"I was admitted to Straub Hospital and my dog didn't have anywhere to go, so she spent the night with me," Montiho added.

Montiho said that if no one could take care of Princess, her pomeranian, she would have left the hospital, despite warnings from the medical staff that she needed immediate surgery

"God bless that hospital. Everyone was looking to help me. They were looking for any empty room to accommodate us. They went out of their way to help," Montiho said.

Adding to the stressful situation, Princess didn't like the hospital environment and started to growl and snap at whoever came into Montiho's room.

"I asked everyone I knew if they could take Princess, but they all have animals too," said Montiho. "Angela (Keen) is an angel from heaven. She took Princess and told me not to worry."

Angela Keen is the manager of physician services at Straub Clinic and Hospital. Keen called the Oahu SPCA looking for a foster home for Princess while Montiho got the care she needed.

"As a dog owner, I understand how difficult it would be if I were hospitalized and had no one to care for my dog," Keen said. "For many people, their dog is their child, for some it is the only family they have. I am so glad we were able to assist the patient. The Oahu SPCA answered my call and sprung into action immediately."

Princess is now in a foster home while Montiho recuperates at a nursing rehabilitation facility.

Montiho's predicament isn't new. It is a common situation that people don't have someone to watch their pets while they are incapacitated.

"We had several incidents in the past few months of seniors going into the hospital (including homeless seniors) or are suddenly too sick to care for their animals," says Oahu SPCA co-founder Stephanie Ryan.

Inspired by Montiho's story, the Oahu SPCA recently introduced a new program called Pet Assurance. This plan helps owners when they fall ill or are unable to care for their pets.

"We will be providing an insurance policy for the public called Pet Assurance. The Oahu SPCA will guarantee care of the pet for the rest of the pet's life in one of our most experienced foster homes," Ryan said. "Many people don't have a trusted friend or relative to be appointed as guardian for their pet. Pet Assurance provides peace of mind regarding the care of your loved one."

"How wonderful it is to know that this (situation) inspired a new foster care program at Oahu SPCA for those who need help caring for their pets when they are hospitalized or sick," says Keen.

Ryan says the Oahu SPCA will also be responsible for the pet if the owner passes away. The shelter asks to be named as a beneficiary in the estate planning process.

For more on Pet Assurance, call Rachel Huff- Wagenborg at the Oahu SPCA at 754-1519.