David Shapiro Column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser

We were delighted to see this column by David Shapiro in the Sunday 12/17/23 edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. We’ve reprinted it here with his permission:

Pam Burns’ animal impact well told in elegant book

I got to know Pam Burns, longtime driving force of the Hawaiian Humane Society, when we were volunteer judges at Scrabble tournaments for the kids at Kuhio Park Terrace.

My hearing was going, and I sometimes couldn’t make out what the kids said, while Pam never missed a word anybody said. I was quick with the dictionary, while spelling wasn’t Pam’s strong suit. We were a perfect team.

We’d stick around afterward sometimes to talk about everything from politics to social concerns to our common ties in our younger days to Keaau on the Big Island.

Pam was one of the smartest people I ever knew, knowledgeable about many subjects and exceptionally funny.

There were many others like me she would pump for information or plant her own ideas, and it was a blow to all of us whose lives she touched when she died from lung cancer in 2017 at 65.

So I was delighted to receive a new book about Pam’s life put together by her family. Called “Pet-Walk!” after the popular fundraiser she founded for HHS, it caught her essence so well through her writings and comments of those who knew her that it was almost like chatting with her again in the Kuhio Park Terrace gym.

PAM, WHO CAME FROM prominent sugar families, was president and CEO of the Humane Society for 27 years, building it into one of the most respected animal welfare groups in the country.

She oversaw multiple expansions of the society’s Moiliili campus and initiated the groundbreaking West Oahu facility that opened this year. She was a constant presence and highly regarded advocate at the Legislature and City Council. Her husband, Irv Jenkins, recalled, “In later years Pam would often return home from the Legislature with the same story: ‘So they asked if I knew about this old law on animals.’ She would roll her eyes and say, ‘Know about it? I wrote it!’” Pam was driven most by her belief in the importance of the relationship between people and animals, and worked from the beginning to put people front and center in the society’s mission.

It was reflected in the new motto for the Humane Society she personally conceived: “People for animals, animals for people.”

“For years I have been aware of how quickly animal abuse can lead to violence against people,” she wrote in one of her first HHS newsletters. “When children practice humane values of kindness, compassion and respect towards animals, these values are transferred to their relationships with people.”

Nanci Kreidman, who recently retired as executive director of the Domestic Violence Action Center, said, “Pam helped put the spotlight on the connection between pet abuse and spouse abuse.”

Pam saw animals as an important tension reliever, writing, “In situations where many topics of the day may seem off-limits or politicized, people can often find a common bond, or a kind of conversational refuge, in sharing about their pets.”

A limited number of books can be purchased at pamburns.com, with partial proceeds going to HHS, or the book can be viewed for free via a convenient e-reader at the website.

——— Reach David Shapiro at volcanicash@gmail.com.

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