Garrison strengthens commitment to pet safety in Halawa
AIEA, Hawaii -- Pulling up to the gate of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Pet Kennel on Halawa Valley Street, here, you will park your car and open the door to the delightful cadence of canines at play.
After getting a greeting at the front gate from the friendly smile of kennel program manager Edwin Gonzalez, he will lead you down a walkway paved with painted paw prints, pointing you toward home -- or at least the temporary home of all the canine keiki of military affiliated personnel staying here.
-- Pet kennel growth, history
Gonzalez explains a bit about the kennel and just why today is such an important day.
Opened in 2004, with a mere 20 kennels, the FMWR Pet Kennel exists to support military personnel and their pets by providing economical and exemplary boarding facilities for dogs and cats to be nurtured and cared for while their owners are away from the islands.
Over the years, the kennel has seen an exponential increase in demand for its services, calling for an increase to 74 kennels, and most recently, an upgrade to its current 192 kennels and its newest facility location -- just right down the road from the original site, which it moved to in November 2014.
-- Promoting well-being
Gonzalez tells how the animals are kept in outdoor kennels and receive the chance to get out and run and exercise twice daily. This time also provides a great occasion for the pets to socialize amongst one another in a safe, controlled environment.
Gonzalez explains how important the animals' well-being is to the kennel and its staff, assuring patrons that the "safety of the pets is a must here. That's our priority."
"We treat pets here like they're family," said Gonzalez. "We understand that they are the 'children' of our service (members), and we take care of them as such."
-- The ribbon cutting
On National Dog Day (April 11), Lt. Col. Ken Sanderson, executive officer, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, arrived to lead a ribbon cutting ceremony dedicating the new facility and honoring its workers for all their hard work.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Sanderson affirmed Gonzalez's claims.
"Everything done, here, all the hard work and care taken at the kennel, doesn't go unnoticed, " Sanderson said. "I bring my own two Jack Russells, here, and they love it.
They come in with a wagging tail versus dragging their feet. That's how you know you can feel confident they are well cared for, and we can't thank you enough."
The ceremonial cutting of the ribbon followed the thanks and appreciation of Sanderson. Then, the ever-humble program manager gave a heartfelt thank you to his own staff of animal caretakers for all the work they tirelessly commit to completing each and every day.
"We can do this together," said Gonzalez, following it with the kennel's creed, "One team, one fight!"
Surveying the smiles on the staffers' faces, the confidence in the animal owners' eyes and the healthy coats and springs in the step of the pups nearby at play, this is one fight FMWR Kennel is winning.