Here at Lanai Cat Sanctuary, we’re passionate about helping animals and making sure they are taken care of. With a population of about 3,000, no traffic lights and one gas station, the Hawaiian island of Lanai was once home to a small community with a big problem: hundreds of homeless and unwanted cats. That’s when our Executive Director, Keoni Vaughn stepped in.

“If there was ever an area where we could potentially solve the cat population issue, Lanai was going to be the place,” he says.

Vaughn became executive director of Lanai Cat Sanctuary in 2014. Born and raised on the island of Oahu, he has worked in animal welfare for nearly 20 years. He started by picking up strays and conducting cruelty and hoarding investigations with the Hawaiian Humane Society, working his way up to chief investigator and then director of operations and vice president of the organization.

He was drawn to the unique challenge of rescuing cats from ecologically sensitive areas on Lanai. Founded by Kathy Carroll, the sanctuary strives to meet two critical needs: a shelter for homeless cats, and protection for the island’s native and endangered ground-nesting birds, some of which lay only one egg a year.

“It was critical, in the founding of the cat sanctuary, to remove these cats that were predating on these birds, and relocate the cats to a safe location where they can live out their lives,” Vaughn says.

As director, he’s overseen the delivery of quality care for cats with medical needs by regularly flying in veterinarians from Oahu and, occasionally, from the U.S. mainland as well. Most of the sanctuary’s 680 cats will stay on site for the rest of their lives, though 35 to 50 are adopted off the island each year.

“When I first started, there were quite a few cats in the town area where everyone lives,” he says. “Now, you don’t see any, so we definitely feel like we’re making a difference.”

See the full article from where you can read about more Cat Lovers and Heroes from Alaska, Washington D.C. and Florida.