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Wednesday, May 10, 2000

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Volunteer Kathy Panicek, above, gives Fluffy some attention at the
state Animal Quarantine Station. Fluffy's owners live on Kauai.

Pets True blue

They help heal body and soul,
asking only kindness in return

IS animal companionship an important consideration for your quality of life?

Ninety-six percent answered "yes" when asked that question in a survey conducted by Ward Research on Oahu in 1996. This feeling may be even stronger this week, National Pet Week and Be Kind to Animals Week.

As these photos show, the bond between people and pets is a special one, helping to heal the body, as well as soothe the soul.


By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Scott Kido, 14, watches over a cat as it eats. The feline recently
weighed less than 1 pound, but when it reaches 2 pounds, it will
be taken to the Hawaiian Humane Society for adoption.

They wag their way
into patients’ hearts

Bullet PALS take over in crisis
Bullet Quarantined critters get TLC

By Pat Gee


ONLY 2 years old, but weighing 160 pounds, Josephine looks more like a big, black bear than a dog. Willie, on the other hand, is six pounds of indefatigable energy covered in brown and white fur.

Together, they make a formidable team as they trot down hospital corridors, sticking their heads onto laps for petting and bringing smiles to faces set in worry.

Peter Ankersmit has been taking his dogs to Tripler Army Medical Center for 10 years to "make patients feel good. It gives me a wonderful feeling and it makes the dogs feel important."

On a recent day, it was only Josephine's second visit to the hospital as part of the Red Cross's Human-Animal Bond Program. She was doing quite well, except for charging out of the elevator. The first time the door opened, she bolted between the legs of Red Cross volunteer Eloise Monsaratt, lifting and carrying her several feet.

"Next time I'll bring a saddle," Ankersmit said, laughing with Monsaratt. He took Josephine aside, gathered her face into his hands, and quietly reprimanded the dog, who looked solemnly back into his eyes.

"She needs a lot of work," he sighed.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Leukemia patient Master Sgt. Cleveland Sander, above,
relaxes with Willie, a papillon brought to Tripler Hospital
once a week to visit patients.

Josephine, who wears a pink beribboned bib to catch any drool, is carrying on a family tradition as the youngest of four Newfoundland water dogs Ankersmit has taken to Tripler. Willie, a tiny Papillon, is also part of the Ankersmit home.

They both had to pass the 10-point Canine Good Citizenship Test on obedience and behavior before they could poke their noses into the hearts of patients, staff and visitors. Director Sandy Lord took over the program in 1989 with six dogs; she now works with 30 dogs, cats and rabbits, most of them canines.

"Who can resist a happy, smiling animal who looks up at you as if he's saying, 'Pet me; I want to cuddle with you,'" Lord said.

She recently was made an honorary member of the U.S. Army for her contributions toward, among other things, promoting esprit de corps through the program, which was designed to reduce the sense of fear and isolation patients may feel in the hospital.

Often, a patient will react to an animal before he will to a staff member or even a family member. One man who had suffered a stroke would not respond to anything for three days, "but I put my rabbit beside him and his fingers contracted in its fur," Lord said. "That was his first movement."

Another patient's first, long-awaited words were, "Woof, woof!" when a dog came to visit.

The animals even are helpful in breaking the tension of family members in a waiting room, some of whom sit there for hours.

"You see how people are in their own islands of concern, but the dogs bring them together as a community and that's wonderful," Lord said.

Ankersmit said, "The therapy provided to the staff may even be more important, because they're under even more stress all the time."

The Hawaiian Humane Society also offers animal visitation to a wide variety of agencies and institutions, including hospitals and elderly care homes, involving 54 teams of pets and their owners, said Cynthia Keolani, manager of community outreach.

The pets include dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, rabbits and a turtle.


Bullet Hawaiian Humane Society: For pet visitation, pet loss support group, and PALS program, 946-2187, ext. 217. For foster care, ext. 285.
Bullet Tripler Army Medical Center: For pet visitation, Sandy Lord, 433-4657.
Bullet Pet loss counseling: Sally Rall, 235-0165.
Bullet Animal Quarantine Station, volunteer visitors: 483-7171.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Gary Betti perks up as he pets Josephine, a 165-pound
Newfoundland, who is brought to Tripler Hospital to visit
patients. Betti is a freshman at Roosevelt High School.

These PALS take over
during crisis

By Pat Gee


VAL Kido's newest kitty has an identity problem.

"She thinks she's a bird!" says the Hawaiian Humane Society foster care-giver.

A fall from a two-story building might have had something to do with the newborn kitten's identity crisis, but it landed her in Kido's lap, which is a lucky place to be.

"I usually spoil them rotten," says Kido. "Every once in a while we find four kittens in bed with us." Yes, four -- Kido sometimes takes on whole litters.

Even though her husband, Kei, doesn't like cats, he accepts them.

"I'm lucky, because they're cute," Kido said of the orphans, laughing. The kittens she brings home usually are about two weeks old.

Kido has been a volunteer with the humane society's foster home program for two years, since the death of her 15-year-old cat.

"She was a good mother; now it's my job," says Kido, who also is the mother of two boys.

Through the PALS (Pets Are Loving Support) Program, the humane society provides temporary foster homes if an animal's owner is unable to care for a pet because of age or illness, or is fleeing a home because of domestic violence, said Cynthia Keolani, manager of community outreach.

Assistance may include transportation to a veterinarian or to the market to buy pet food.

There are 30 to 40 volunteers with the foster care program, according to director Nettie Vierra. Someone who volunteers "needs to hold and nurture and play" with the animal, "not just feed it twice a day or leave it alone for hours in a crate," she said.

More volunteers are always needed but they must be committed to the "development of this little bitty creature" so that it becomes a well-balanced animal who practically "sells itself" to someone who comes to adopt a pet, Vierra said.

"They're the ones that are batting at you through the cage door, saying, 'Take me! Take me!', not the ones hiding under the benches."

Kido volunteers because "some (animals) have a difficult life from the very beginning. It's fun to try to make a difference," she said. It also "makes me feel good" to know she has helped make it easier for the orphans to get adopted.

Kido always goes back three or four days after she's returned the animals to the society to "make sure they get adopted."

It was difficult at first to give them up, especially the ones she and her boys got attached to.

She usually knows when it's time to give them back, about six or seven weeks of age: "It's when they get very mischievous."

Hawaii Pet Quarantine

Quarantined critters
get lots of TLC

By Pat Gee


PETS held in quarantine get to make long-distance calls all the time.

That's one of the perks they get being under the wing of Kathy Panicek, volunteer coordinator at the state Animal Quarantine Branch.

"I put the phone to the pet's ears and say, 'Here's your mom!' " she said.

It may not make the animals feel better, but it certainly makes the owners feel their pets are in good hands while they are still out of state, Panicek said.

The first phone call between a volunteer and a pet owner is "a lot of fun.

"There's so much appreciation" from the owner, she said.

The owner tells the volunteer about his pet's favorite treats or toys, what words of comfort to use, commands he is familiar with, and other pertinent information.

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Volunteer Kathy Panicek cuddles Fluffy at the
state Animal Quarantine Station.

The state quarantine law, designed to prevent the spread of rabies, has reduced the quarantine period for dogs and cats to 30 days, although it still is 120 days for those under a year old.

Panicek's two dogs and a cat had to undergo quarantine when she and her husband, a member of the military, first came to Hawaii two years ago.

"I saw how our pets so looked forward to our visits," she said.

"I couldn't imagine how it would be for a pet not to have someone come visit. I saw how important it was to them as well as to me."

She saw a sign on a bulletin board about a volunteer program to take care of animals whose owners had not yet arrived in Hawaii and decided to join its ranks.

Panicek, a nursing student, recently was appointed volunteer coordinator at the Halawa Valley facility. There are about 20 volunteers, and more are always needed.

A typical volunteer may spend anywhere from two hours a week to five days a week with his or her assigned pet during visiting hours.

An owner may request that the same volunteer also be in charge of feeding and cleaning the kennel.

What draws people like Panicek to volunteer?

"There's a special place in our hearts for animals," she said. "We empathize with family members and know how it feels to be separated from their animals."

The term "quarantine station" might give people the wrong impression that it's "like a dog prison," Panicek said.

But she said in addition to the volunteer visitors, staff caretakers are "absolutely wonderful" in keeping the kennels clean, as well as giving the animals a "lot of TLC (tender loving care)."

Quarantine Info

E-mail to City Desk

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