As Lava Spews Across Hawaii, Rescuers Save 'Noah's Ark' of Animals Left for Dead


As Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano continues to erupt, nearby neighborhoods have been devastated by its destruction. Countless families have been forced to evacuate their homes to escape the dangerous lava flow and fumes.

Sadly, many people have been forced to also abandon their beloved pets behind as rescuers fight to save as many people as they can.

Many of these pet owners may not be able to return to their homes for quite a while and are unsure what will be left of them once they can.

Knowing how much these families miss their beloved animals, rescue groups in the area are making heroic efforts to reunite owners with their pets as soon as possible.


As rescued residents relocate temporarily to the animal-friendly Red-Cross shelter in Pahoa, a town about 25 miles from the volcano, animal rescuers are working to bring their pets safely back to the shelter.

They begin by taking down pet owners’ addresses and the names of their pets before venturing back to the deserted neighborhoods. If they cannot be found in residences, rescuers then try to coax animals out of hiding with food and water.

“Ideally, we take the owner back in so they can hear a familiar voice and we can hand-trap them,” Hawaii Island Humane Society volunteer Burgandy Singleton said. “We are trying every trick from every book.”

Many of their efforts so far have been a success, with rescue groups rescuing a “Noah’s Ark” of animals including dogs and cats, ducks and geese, goats and bunnies, and plenty more.

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These groups have also saved more than 1300 head of cattle and 36 horses, many of which have been relocated to farms farther away from the chaos. Others have been relocated to the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens, where they are being cared for and fed by Hawaii County and the community.

“From the earthquakes to the smoke and lava to the helicopters overhead, they are just spooked,” Singleton explained, adding that the livestock are even more uneasy than other house pets.

The Pahoa Red Cross shelter is currently housing nearly 100 dogs, 30 cats, and a handful of bunnies, birds, and pigs.

“Quite the crazy farm right now,” Singleton said. “We are housing everything from wee little creatures to ginormous beasts and no trouble. With that many personalities mixing it up, it’s been amazing.”

And each of the residents who have been reunited with their pets so far know that having their beloved animals by their side can ease the uncertainty they face as the volcano continues to erupt.

“It gives them a sense of home and keeps them as peaceful as possible,” Singleton said. “This is definitely stressful on the pets as well as the people.”

“They both get something from it,” she added. “Sometimes they have lost every single thing they own other than that dog or cat. It’s the one piece of home they still have, the one piece holding them together. And the pets feel the same way.”

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Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
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