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  • Writer's pictureMarika

Burn Zone- A Journey of Rescue and Reunification (Ep.101Animals of the Maui Wildfires)

Updated: 5 days ago

In August of this year, the serene landscapes of Maui were ravaged by wildfires, leaving behind devastation and countless stories of bravery and survival. Among the most vulnerable were the animals caught in this catastrophe.

Introduction and Recap

In the previous episode of "Animals of the Maui Wildfires," we explored the situation at the Maui Humane Society two months after the wildfires in Lahaina. We talked with Jenny Miller, Director of Development at MHS, who shared the ways in which MHS has been instrumental in helping the Maui community even as it contends with its own past challenges.

We also met Moani, a humane enforcement resource officer who was among the first animal rescuers on the scene. Amidst the chaos, her anxiety was palpable as she faced an eerie silence from her family and friends, last known to be navigating the congested roads of Lahaina.

Women with blonde hair holding a medium size black and tan dog in a field of Sunflowersan
Katie Shannon

Katie Shannon’s Role in Communication

Katie Shannon has been a crucial bridge between MHS efforts and the wider world. Her challenging role involves reporting the hard truths while respecting the profound emotional and cultural impact the disaster has had on the local community. Katie’s heartfelt commitment to her work is apparent as she aims to highlight the importance of reuniting beloved companion animals with their families, amidst the tragedy.

Emily Drose’s Initial Efforts

As the fire cat specialist, Emily Drose works at the forefront of reunification efforts. Her journey began by gathering supplies and delivering aid as a civilian. She took a break post-fire due to the emotional toll, but returned to dedicate herself to the rescue efforts. Emily's relentless work and dedication exemplify the true spirit of Aloha and community support.

A women with short dark hair in a Maui Humane Society uniform and badge at her waist, sitting and smiling cuddling a small fluffy white dog
Moani Makaiwi

Moani’s Journey in the Burn Zone

Moani Makaiwi recounts her haunting experience driving into Lahaina about 24 hours after the fires began. Moani’s first night in Lahaina was marked by overwhelming darkness, silence, and the sight of burning neighborhoods.

First Impressions and Emotional Realities

Driving through the devastated areas was a deeply emotional experience for Moani. She describes the visceral reactions of seeing familiar places completely destroyed, the eerie silence, and the ever-present feeling of sorrow and loss. Her professional background in law enforcement helped her remain composed, but the personal connections to the land and community made the tasks at hand even more poignant.

The Role of the Community and Organizations

The immediate response from organizations such as Greater Good, Bissell Pet Foundation, and ASPCA played a crucial role in the relief efforts. Their collaborative work allowed MHS to manage and facilitate the evacuation and treatment of animals effectively, despite the overwhelming circumstances. Community groups and local volunteers also played an indispensable role, offering everything from basic supplies to emotional support.

FireCat Team and the Road Ahead

A black cat in an e-collar with singed fur and burned ear edges
Fire Cat- image from MHS

This team’s response has been methodical, utilizing a scale to determine the socialization and care needs of each animal. Their work continues to evolve, aiming to find long-term solutions for the free-living cats who cannot return to their original territories.

Reflections and Ongoing Challenges

Even as MHS navigates these challenges, the housing crisis for pets and their owners in the aftermath of the fire remains a significant concern. The loss of vet clinics and pet-friendly housing has compounded the difficulties, but the commitment of MHS and the support from the global community offer a glimmer of hope.


The stories from Maui's wildfires highlight a powerful lesson about community, resilience, and the spirit of helping one another. The work of the Maui Humane Society, alongside countless volunteers and organizations, is a testament to what can be achieved when people come together in times of crisis. For those who wish to support their ongoing efforts, please visit the MHS donation page.

Landscape of Maui with the silhouette of a person offering a horse some food in a small shelter
Maui Horse Shelter- image from MHS

Stay tuned for the next episode where we will hear more about the ongoing rescues, the challenges of long-term recovery, and how the animals of Lahaina managed to survive the critical days and weeks following the disaster. Thank you for joining us as we continue to ask the question: What's the deal with the animals of the Maui wildfires?


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