HONOLULU (KHON2) — Last week, KAT Charities revealed there were stray cats around Schofield Barracks with blow darts in them — a couple were even found mutilated near the Popeyes on base. The Oahu animal rescue recently contributed to the $1,000 reward being offered for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible.
Local nonprofit Catopia Hawaii is behind the reward, which first started at $500 after news of the injured cats became public. Now, they’re on a mission to address a decades-long issue.
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“I think what we need to remember is that this isn’t just about catching the bad guy. It’s about getting to the root of the issue: the Army miserably failing to address animal abandonment on bases,” said Jessica Halvorson, cofounder and vice president of Catopia Hawaii.
Halvorson told KHON2 they have been asking multiple animal rescues and trappers for cases that they know were abandoned by military families. She said they currently have 22 animals.
“The Army has known for decades that strays on bases have been a problem,” Halvorson said. “Their solution is to punish residents who feed them and to use pest control to get rid of them. This leads to the unnecessary suffering and euthanasia of hundreds of animals a year.”
Halvorson adds that military residents are calling outside rescue organizations like Catopia Hawaii for help to save these animals, and this burdens an already overwhelmed animal rescue system.
When KHON2 first reported the shooting of stray cats around Schofield Barracks, a spokesperson for U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii provided this statement:
Halvorson calls it “hypocritical” for the Army to claim they don’t tolerate behavior like that of the shooter, then turn a blind eye to the fact that the stray animals are a direct result of irresponsible military owners.
“While it isn’t always easy to move with pets as a military family, it is ultimately a responsibility that should be taken very seriously,” said Halvorson. “Owners should anticipate the cost of moving with an animal to be in the thousands of dollars on the high end, especially if moving larger animals or going overseas on assignments.”
She advises families to start researching PCSing with pets early on because it’s never OK to abandon a pet.
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“Commanders who have failed to act on this issue should be reprimanded just as harshly as whomever is shooting these cats on Schofield,” Halvorson said. “They have directly contributed the to the harm of animals on base by allowing the abandonment to continue unchecked for so long.”