HONOLULU (KHON2) — Following the recent reports of stray cats found with blow darts in them — and some of them even mutilated — around the Schofield Army Barracks, one nonprofit is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person(s) involved.
Jessica Halvorson, cofounder and vice president of Catopia Hawaii, has participated in TNR (trap, neuter, release) and rescue work on Schofield for approximately 10 years. During that time, she said the Army has ignored the root problem on their bases, and she wants to see change.
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“Military families are routinely getting away with abandoning animals when leaving,” Halvorson said. “This is why there are stray animals on the bases to begin with. Let me be clear, it isn’t every military family doing this. There are good ones, and I am a military wife.”
According to Halvorson, it isn’t uncommon for the military police to stop those involved in animal rescue from participating in trap-neuter-release efforts or trapping to get sick, injured or dying animals veterinary care.
“This recently happened to a volunteer, who had a military ID, when they were trying to trap one of the cats shot with an arrow so it could get veterinary care,” she said. “It is also a punishable offense for residents of the bases to help these animals by feeding them so they don’t starve.”
On Thursday, June 2, a cat named Katniss was brought to Aloha Affordable Veterinary Services to treat a blow dart wound. She is now recovering with a foster and will be transferred over to Popoki + Tea, a cat cafe in Kaimuki, at the end of the month to find her forever home.
“She still has some healing to do before she’s spayed in two weeks, and then she’ll need a few days to recover from that surgery,” said Liberty Peralta, founder and owner of Popoki + Tea. “We always have cats that need help finding homes and a lot of them come from unfortunate situations, with Katniss’ being the worst we’ve seen in a while. We expect Katniss will have no problem being adopted due to all the attention surrounding this case.”
KAT Charities, an Oahu animal rescue that first reported the incident, said there are still injured cats out there, including at least one with a blow dart in its head.
“The Army’s solution any time an abandonment or abuse case comes up is to simply sweep it under the rug and to step up ‘pest control’ efforts on base,” said Halvorson. “Considering there aren’t enough pest control agents to ever come close to eradicating the strays on base like the military wishes, organizations like Catopia Hawaii will continue to pick up the slack for their lack of accountability.”
She added that until the Army actually proves they don’t condone the mistreatment of animals by swiftly enacting harsh punishments for animal abuse and abandonment on base, animals will continue to suffer.
U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii told KHON2 on Thursday that it was just made aware of this incident and is initiating an investigation into these reports.
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Witnesses with first-hand information are asked to contact the Schofield Barracks Military Police at (808) 655-5555. To claim Catopia Hawaii’s $500 reward, email email@example.com.