GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Dogs are a bit curious about the neighbors on the grounds of the K9 ResQ shelter in Waianae. The shelter's owner is looking for new homes for them.
For the love of life
An animal saver cannot afford to keep pets of deployed troops
About 75 pets belonging to troops deployed to Iraq face losing their shelter in Waianae because their host cannot afford the high cost of their care.
Michael Blasko, founder of the K9 ResQ Animal Bird Sanctuary, said the animals have not been reclaimed and that he has been unable to contact their owners. He does not know if the soldiers have been "wounded or worse," he said.
Blasko said he has spent his $8,000 life savings and gone into debt to keep the shelter going. But unless he can find another source of revenue, he will be forced to close the sanctuary and turn over the animals to the Hawaiian Humane Society to find homes or be euthanized.
LEND A HAND
The K9 ResQ animal shelter, which is in need of funds and people to adopt dogs and cats, can be reached at 696-4357 or via pager at 267-0433.*
"I just can't turn the animals over to the Humane Society, knowing they're (ultimately) going to be killed. It would torment me for the rest of my days," said Blasko, who opened the nonkill shelter 21 years ago.
He has tried to give away the animals by placing newspaper ads for the past six months, without success.
The animals include dogs, cats and a few birds, and he shelters them on his property and at a dozen foster homes.
He used to charge a nominal fee, then he dropped it to allow a flexible payment plan once troops returned home.
"I was not in it for the money, but for the love of life. We're (referring to his wife, Patty) animal lovers," said the former Waikiki Realtor, a disabled Vietnam veteran.
He started taking on animals belonging to troops in about 2003 when the number of soldiers deployed to Iraq increased. Since then only about 12 to 18 pets have been picked up by their owners -- "which is nothing," he said.
"None of the owners sent us any money. It boomeranged on us big time," Blasko said.
He said the troops left no direct contact information, most of them referring him to their bases of command. Blasko has spent hours on the phone trying to trace the men but has been told their whereabouts is "classified information." After not hearing from the owners for a year, Blasko had to find other homes for the animals.
Of the animals left behind, he has "seen three die of a broken heart. ... It brings us to tears."
His average operating cost per month is $900, including treatment for heartworm, fleas and ticks. He has been indebted for the past two years to the Blue Cross Animal Hospital in Honolulu for veterinarian services amounting to $4,600.
Now "it's pay as you go, but they don't turn us away," he added.
Dr. Darrell Allison, head veterinarian and owner of the hospital, has worked with Blasko and his wife for at least 20 years. The couple is "sincere and honest and do the best they can, but it's always been a struggle. People (like the Blaskos) with big hearts don't have big resources" and become "overwhelmed with the enormity of the problem" -- the glut of unwanted dogs and cats.
Blasko said he could use the services of any veterinarian who would be willing to donate skills or make them available for an "affordable price," especially for a dog that needs cataract surgery.
Besides the need for responsible people to adopt the animals, Blasko is asking for donations from the public until he can find homes for the pets. The dogs and cats have been spayed/neutered and come with medical records; the dogs have had obedience training. Checks should be made out to K9 ResQ, P.O. Box 1602, Waianae 96792.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
» The K9 ResQ animal shelter, which is in need of funds and people to adopt dogs and cats, can be reached at 696-4357 or via pager at 267-0433. A Page A3 article Saturday neglected to include contact information.