GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As recovery efforts continue after fire devastated Maui, an animal welfare group based in West Michigan is helping on the island.
The Bissell Pet Foundation is working to help identify pet remains and support surviving pets and families displaced by the fire.
“There’s so much debris and unfortunately with the deceased, in some cases there’s only ashes left,” Kim Alboum, Bissell’s director of shelter outreach and policy development, said. “What they will do is they will go out into the field on behalf of Maui Humane (Society) and they will scan the deceased and live pets for microchips and try to find their families.”
It takes time and care to go through the remains.
“They are trained responders with the proper equipment. This is a dangerous situation. The debris has asbestos in it and other chemicals. They’re coming with respirators. They’re coming with fire boots,” Alboum said.
Animal welfare groups from across the country are also trying to help provide food and other supplies.
“You can image what it would be like to have to leave your pet behind in that situation. Some people weren’t able to get back home to get their pets, so our hearts are with these people because it’s just such a devastating thing,” Alboum said.
The organizations are working to help all types of pets.
“We have been alerted to a 140-pound potbelly pig named Benjamin that needs to be removed from the island. These are the types of things that we’re going to get called on. His family lost their home,” Alboum said.
It is unclear how many pets still need to be identified and how long that process will take.
“It could just be a few weeks until the major cleanup starts and who knows, it could be a couple of months. I think our main concern right now is there are a lot of people that are displaced from their homes that have pets, so where are they going to go,” Alboum said.