Calls for stricter cruelty penalties

Advocates Demand Tougher Penalties for Animal Cruelty Offenses

In Honolulu, a disturbing series of events has unfolded, prompting police to investigate cases of animal cruelty in the Hawaii Kai area. The focus is on the tragic killings of feral cats, an issue that has shocked the local community.

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A shocking revelation came to light when an autopsy of one of the cats revealed it had been shot multiple times in the head. This incident has sparked outrage, especially since current laws seem to offer minimal consequences for such heinous acts.

In a particularly alarming incident at Koko Head District Park, the discovery of several deceased cats alongside unsettling graffiti led to the initiation of four animal cruelty cases by the police in just one week in February. This was reported by the Hawaiian Humane Society, which also noted that an autopsy of one cat revealed troubling evidence of deliberate harm.

According to Stephanie Kendrick, the community engagement director at HHS, the evidence clearly indicates that the cat was killed on purpose, with projectiles from a weapon being the cause of death.

This incident is reminiscent of a previous case involving Bobbi, a cat from Makaha who was shot in April 2023. Fortunately, Bobbi’s story had a happier outcome, thanks to the efforts of rescuers. However, the violence against cats seems to be on the rise, with many not surviving such attacks.

Maraya Dawn, president of Rescue Kitties of Hawaii, expressed her concern, noting an escalation in violence and the tragic outcomes for many cats.

Dr. Karen Tyson, founder of KAT Charities, criticized Hawaii’s laws on animal cruelty, describing them as overly lenient and ineffective in deterring such crimes.

In response to the recent cat shootings, police have opened a second-degree animal cruelty case. Witnesses have reported that three other cats found in the same timeframe also bore wounds indicative of gunfire.

Currently, second-degree animal cruelty is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail or probation. However, a new proposal aims to reclassify such crimes as Class B felonies, with significantly harsher penalties, including prison sentences of up to 10 years.

Rep. Scott Nishimoto emphasized the need for stricter laws, pointing out that the current penalties do not adequately reflect the severity of these crimes.

To aid in the investigation, officials are offering a reward for information leading to an arrest or conviction in the Koko Head cat killings, with the Humane Society board member contributing a significant sum for information that results in a conviction.

For more news from around Hawaii and updates on animal cruelty legislation, visit the Hawaii State Legislature’s website.