Maui News

Maui Humane Society Offers Foster Program

December 30, 2017, 12:15 PM HST
* Updated December 29, 3:28 PM
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Maui Humane Society’s Critter Corner animal housing and play area. PC: Valerie Richter

Many Maui animal lovers may not know that the Maui Humane Society offers a foster program to help potential pets receive the care they need to ready them for new homes.

Some foster animals have never been around humans. Their socialization can be aided by the relationships they develop in foster homes. Other animals may be too young for adoption, while some just need time in foster care to recover from medical conditions or procedures.

MHS CEO Jerleen Bryant said the nonprofit has developed a highly coordinated program in order to help animals find their forever homes.

These three new Shar Pei mix pups are almost ready for fostering. PC: MHS

The foster program, along with several other factors, plays a significant role in MHS’s lifesaving abilities. As of November 2017, 94% of the dogs and 74% of tame cats that have come through MHS have found their permanent homes.

MHS Foster Coordinator Nikki Russell said kittens, cats, puppies, dogs and other critters—rabbits, Guinea pigs and even birds—are available to foster.

Sunrise and Sunset at the Maui Humane Society’s foster care facility. PC: MHS


It doesn’t cost anything to participate in the foster pet parent program. MHS provides all food, kennels, kitty litter, bowls, toys and leashes, as well as any necessary veterinary care and medications.


“With just two months into being foster coordinator, I have been pleased and touched by the positive feedback of new and seasoned foster families,” said Russell. “I often hear how having a foster kitten, dog or critter has provided them a way to give back to the community while having the enjoyment of a companion.”

“Fostering is a rewarding experience, as you feel good knowing you have helped save a shelter animal’s life—and even more, you’ve created space in the shelter for other animals in need,” she said.

Valerie and Craig Richter, who recently learned about the foster program, have been caring for kittens and cats since October 2017.

Foster kittens Sparky (R) and Tom (L) play at the Richter’s home. PC: Valerie Richter


“We have had nine cats and kittens altogether—three during our first session, then four and currently two,” said Craig. “It has been interesting and rewarding to watch them explore our home, become comfortable and grow in size and socialization. They each have a unique personality!”

“When we first learned of the foster program and decided to foster a couple of cats, I was thinking it will be fun to have some kittens in the house for a few weeks,” said Valerie.

But she expressed concern about it being hard to give them back. “What if I get attached?” she asked.

Foster kitten Sparky makes himself at home at the Richter residence. PC: Valerie Richter

“Then I saw the bigger picture—that it was a program to help the humane society help the animals in need, who otherwise would be spending weeks in a smaller kennel until they are ready for adoption,” she noted.

“It has been a joy to see the kittens play and for the shy ones to get used to people,” Valerie said. “We want to love them and prepare them so they have the best chance to be chosen and adopted into a loving home.”

When it comes time for them to enter the adoption phase, Valerie admitted that it has been a bit difficult to say goodbye to their temporary pets.

“But overall, it is not as hard as I thought it would be,” she said. “And after we take a bit of a break, we return to see which new kittens need help.”

“We have completed fostering seven cats so far and two are with us now,” said Craig. “We can’t imagine not being involved in the foster program.”

Craig and Valerie Richter’s “Little Girl” settles in to her new temporary foster home. PC: Valerie Richter

“Nikki and the Maui Humane Society have been very supportive,” Valerie added. “Nikki has been awesome explaining how to take care of them, putting no pressure on us in case we wanted to stop or take a break.”

“The people there are so nice,” said Craig. “You can tell they love their mission.”

“I would challenge the community; if you are even slightly curious about the idea of fostering, please start with just one animal and see how you like it,” Bryant said.

If you are interested in becoming a foster for an animal in need, contact Foster Coordinator Nikki at [email protected] or call (808) 877-3680, ext. 221. You can also drop in anytime Monday through Saturday between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

For more information about the Maui Humane Society, visit

Puppies in the foster care system at the Maui Humane Society. PC: MHS

Maui Humane Society is located between Kahului and Kīhei in Pu‘unēnē, just off of the Veterans Memorial Highway (formerly, Mokulele Highway).

About the Maui Humane Society

The Maui Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, serving the community for over 60 years and is Maui’s only open admission shelter. Its mission is to protect and serve the lives of Maui’s animals, accepting all in need, educating the community, and inspiring respect and compassion toward all animals. Last year, the Maui Humane Society took in over 6,300 animals, and it serves many times that number through the many programs that it offers, including low-cost spay and neuter services, humane enforcement, adoptions, transfer and lost and found services, and humane education programs.

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